Fitness comes first for Sheffield Steelers ace and Jessica Ennis-Hill

Different sports: same mentalityDifferent sports: same mentality
Different sports: same mentality
You'd find it hard to find two athletes as dedicated as this Sheffield-based pair.

Everybody in the country recognises Olympic heptathlon star Jessica Ennis-Hill. But her training partner at the EIS is probably only known to ice hockey fans - yet he is every bit as committed to fitness, the right lifestyle...and winning.

Jonathan Phillips starts his 11th year as a Sheffield Steeler when the season begins in August – he is fourth in the club’s all-time appearance maker. He is also the club’s most successful captain, collecting four league titles and two play off cups. Now he is preparing for the difficult task of achieving a third straight league championship.

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“The summers get shorter” he says. “GB players came back from the World championships and have two weeks off before we are back in the gym. That’s one of the reasons we win, we all buy in. It’s not just one or two of the guys working out its the whole team. We all have our programmes to follow and the guys who have gone overseas know we are working out here so they make sure they are doing the same in Canada, the States or Sweden. You don’t want to think that one of your team mates is doing more than you!

“Once you have won once it’s a drug and you just want to keep on winning. We haven’t been lucky here to win as much as we have, we have worked for those victories, those trophies. Two years ago we beat Cardiff on the last but one day of the season to win the league. This year it went to the very last day, we didn’t buckle.

“Winning before helps. We knew what it was going to take, mentally and physically. We didn’t get distracted we just took it game by game. We didn’t get ahead of ourselves or excited.”

Phillips believes the club can make history.

“Can we do three in a row, can we create history by becoming the first team to do it? Well we are going to try. Otherwise what’s the point of doing this now here in the gym in May?

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“People says teams will try and stop us, make it hard because we are double winning champions. Well we are the Steelers. Teams have tried to make it hard for us every game I have been here over 11 years. I can’t remember an easy night.

“We will miss some of our core next year, Legge, Hewy and Roddy have been here for a decade. Cullen Eddy was a big part of the club during his two years. We still have a great core though, Thommo has done a great job keeping the likes of Guillaume Desbiens for example. The new players will come into a strong and stable environment when they arrive.

“We are given every chance to win here, its set out from day one what is expected – I didn’t see our aims and aspirations changing when we step on to the ice later this year.”