Hazell pays tribute to Clevedon after being named in Western Storm's Regional Academy squad

Jess Hazell

All smiles for Jess Hazell in her Western Storm Regional Academy programme training top. - Credit: Western Storm/Tracey Hazell

Jess Hazell has paid tribute to Clevedon Cricket Club after being named in Western Storm’s Regional Academy Programme.

Hazell, 16, has played for both Clevedon’s seconds and thirds since joining the club as a 13-year-old.

And she will be one the youngest, out of 14 players chosen from five different regions including Wales, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Devon, in the programme.

“I love the club dearly, they have been so supportive and actually from my first season joining as a year nine girl I was very scared actually because I didn’t actually know many people because I’m a Portishead girl," she said.

“I didn’t know really know many people in Clevedon and from the get-go they were they were the most welcoming, supporting club. I never felt out of place.

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"Everyone, all the boys and men were so supportive because I play for both the men and boys. I started helping with the ladies last year, which is a really exciting thing Clevedon have got going, they have a ladies side up.

"There’s not a bad word to say about Clevedon Cricket Club.”

Jess Hazell playing for Millfield School

Jess Hazell in action for Millfield School. - Credit: Kevin Hazell

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After first taking up the sport at the age of 10, Hazell is currently in the lower sixth form at Millfield School, where she is studying Biology, Chemistry and PE.

She is aiming to go on and study medicine at university as well as playing for Clifton Robinsons Hockey Club.

And the teenager says the support she has had from parents Kevin and Tracey and the rest of her family has been instrumental in her success.

“My family are my rock, I’m a family-oriented girl and even through just playing cricket on a beach and getting involved that way, we've always been a sporty family," she added.

"All my siblings are and just getting up and picking up a tennis ball and throwing it around in the garden really kicked off my love for cricket and sport there.

“I’ve always been brought up that my academics are the most important things. If I start to slip in my academics my sport goes.

“I wanted to be able to balance them and keep doing my sport. It’s been hard but having school and supportive parents have worked out a balance that works for me.

“There are maybe some sessions I go to or if I am at a session I do work 100 per cent to make the most of that session.

“There’s no point turning up to so many sessions but only have working at 75 per cent. You are not going to get as much out of it as you want and you still end up being tired and having to catch up.”

Hazell has already started training with Western Storm, who were founded in 2016 and are the most successful side in Kia Super League history after winning the competition in 2017 and 2019.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still a threat, a lot of measures are in place to ensure safety around the camp.

This includes having to check their temperatures every day before 9am - if they don’t they won’t be able to train for a week - as well as walking to the nets with their masks on and having their own ball throughout the winter.

Despite all this Hazell says she wants to keep “progressing”, aware of how big this call-up is for her future.

“This is a huge, huge opportunity and step in my cricketing career and it’s given me the confidence,” she said.

“If I really wanted to work hard, I really wanted it and put the hours and dedication in that it has opened up a path in maybe professional cricket.

“If I do put the dedication and hard work in to getting better, it’s become more of a reality that this could happen. I think that’s really exciting.

“It’s a huge achievement and I feel I can’t get quite over it. It’s an amazing opportunity I’ve been given and I really want to make the most of it and want to grab this opportunity with both hands and see how far I can actually take myself and put in the hard work.

“I think my family and my friends are so proud. I’m proud of myself for seeing how far I have come and my hard work paying off.”

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