Captain Vann is the first sports coach to receive a Professional Sportsperson Contract, which allows her to continue her role in the Army while coaching at the Bath University superleague club.
No stranger to Team Bath, Vann first played for them while studying Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Bath. She helped to secure the club’s first silverware in 2004, the Super Cup, and was part of the victorious Blue & Gold team in the inaugural Superleague campaign the following year.
Three more titles followed – plus a British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) title with the University in 2005, a silver medal with England at the World U21 Championships and a host of senior Roses caps before Vann retired from netball in 2011 to join the British Army.
A tour in Afghanistan
After completing her course at Sandhurst, she was commissioned into the Army Air Corps and served, now as a Captain, as a ground support flight commander with 654 Squadron during a tour of Afghanistan.
It was upon her return to the UK and a role as Platoon Commander at Pirbright, Surrey, that Vann drew on her training and experience as a netball player and coach – she had been South West Netball Development Coach from 2007 to 2010 – to help new recruits achieve their potential.
“It was clear that coaching was becoming an integral part of delivering training to recruits and I felt I could draw on my own background to help deliver that,” said Vann, who came out of playing retirement to represent Team Bath in the 2016 Superleague season.
Returning to netball with the full support of the Army, Jo says skills like determination and teamwork have helped her to build success in both roles.
Netball and the Army have so many synergies, both have such a high reliance on your team mates. Capt Vann
“Netball and the Army have so many synergies, both have such a high reliance on your team mates. I’ve been really fortunate to benefit from the two sides and bring my skills and experience to both the Army and netball,” said Vann, whose current rank is SO3 AAC Officer Recruiting.
She added: “In terms of sport, opportunities in the Army are huge and sport is so well valued. Opportunities to develop team work and key skills are abundant.”
The British Army is a sponsor of England Netball, offering players at grassroots and elite levels the chance to receive Army Leadership and Personal Development Training.