#OnFire – Renny Marr

Unedited version of this month’s article. Such a nice chap to interview.


Now in his second season with the Blaze, back up netminder Renny Marr has been showing us what he’s made of recently, standing in for Brian Stewart in games against the Sheffield Steelers, as well as starting in the pre-season friendly against Manchester Storm. He has also been a regular on international squads, icing for Scotland U17s, GB U18s and more recently for GB U20s.

How does it feel to be chosen to represent your country? Renny said, “Ever since I was young it’s been a dream to play for the GB seniors, so being able to play for Scotland growing up, and being selected for the GB U20s is always a really proud moment. It shows that the work I have put in is paying off and that I’m getting recognised. To be honest, up until I was 15 or so, I wasn’t really thinking about playing for GB – when you are younger you want to play in the NHL or professionally – but until I was 15 or 16 I wasn’t thinking about that, I was playing for fun. Then it got to the stage where I was training with the Flyers in Fife and getting on the bench, so I really thought that if I was improving a lot that I could maybe make the jump to the Elite league, and luckily two years ago I was able to do that.”

Renny played for GB U20s in a training camp in Slovakia, with Head Coach Tommy Watkins, earlier in the season. It included playing the Slovakia U20 team and a team from OHA Okanagan, Austria. He said “Slovakia were quite a challenge and Okanagan were also a tough challenge. It was a good test for the guys who are hopefully going to be going to the World Championships in December.”

More recently, he played another warm up match to prepare for the World Championships which are taking place in Hungary, and include Slovenia, Poland, Italy and Ukraine in the group. This time, the team took on the Hull Pirates EPL team, where Renny lined up against his brother, Jordan, with both brothers shipping three goals each.

Renny is really positive about the call up to the U20s. He explained, “I feel that it’s given me a lot more confidence, being in the mix with the other goalies. Some play in America, some play in Britain. Within the group of five or six I want to get better every day and make a push for being the number one goalie. I feel like that, along with working with Nathan Craze, the GB goalie coach, has really helped. When we were away for the week I felt like I was getting better every day, and Craze was just helping me out giving me pointers and tips, which I worked on since I’ve come back here to Coventry. Getting the call up was really good experience for me.”

Of course, he’s also working hard week in, week out with the Blaze, learning alongside Brian Stewart. “The work I’m doing with Stewy is definitely helping – it’s not lessons every day, but it’s watching him, speaking to him and learning from his experiences. Even just watching him in practice, I sometimes pick things up and trying them out for myself.”

He has had a couple of chances to put his learning into practice this season, how has having that extra ice time helped? “The first five minutes of the game against Sheffield here weren’t great, but once you get settled in and you’re playing, you don’t really think about that you are playing professional hockey, it’s just another game. I don’t really think about it too much, especially since I don’t have too much experience. It’s good to play games against Sheffield and Manchester who are going to give you a challenge. It means to me, that if I want to play at that level that I always have to get better. It’s shown that I can perform at that level, but it’s always making sure that I am pushing myself to be a starter in this league, to be better and to play more often.”

As well as sharpening his own skills, Renny spends time helping the goalies in the Blaze Academy. “Nathan Craze comes to Coventry with his goalie clinic, so I’ll help him work with some of the goalies,” he said, adding, “I come down and coach the goalies for the Academy sessions once a month or so. It’s good to speak to some of the parents and the kids, to help them get better. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of that help and support for goalies in Fife, so I feel like by giving that to the kids it gives them something to aim for, so they can imagine themselves being like me or other young British goalies that are trying to play professionally.”



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Bjorn Bombis #OnFire

One of my favourite interviews in a long time…


Clutching his post-game protein shake, 33 year old Bjorn Bombis was very open about his hopes for the season ahead. Born in Berlin, he’s the first German player to ice for the Blaze. He’s moved from Bremerhaven, having spent the last four seasons playing for Fischtown Pinguins in DEL2, the second league in Germany, averaging over 40 points a season.

How are you feeling about your move the UK? “I’m really happy,” he said, “and my wife is so happy being here. I’m just thankful that Danny Stewart gave me the chance to enter the league and be able to play for the Blaze. The pre-season is short compared to Germany, so even though we didn’t have a lot of time together so far, I feel like the guys in the room have a good chemistry there are lots of open minded, forthcoming guys. I was very nervous on the way here but it was really easy to come here and we’ve settled in pretty good.”

When players come over from Canada and the USA they are all keen to travel, to soak up the culture and to visit our towns and cities with historic buildings. Bombis isn’t too worried about being a tourist, but he is finding some very significant cultural differences. “Well, first there is the food,” he says, laughing. “I would say that my first impression is people like to communicate more. I feel it’s easier to talk to people here, at least that’s what the dressing room is like. It’s been very easy getting into the groups.”

Anything else? “I’m driving on the left side, and everyone is parking facing whichever way they want. It makes me dizzy when there’s a car on my side facing me! In Germany when you drive on the right side you have to park facing that way also. Oh, supermarkets!” he exclaims. “They are way bigger here. They are huge and there’s way more choice. I got lost in the supermarket! The first couple of days we were here I just wanted to go grocery shopping, I felt it was so interesting and I saw so many products I’ve never seen before. The housing is different too. In Germany we have a lot of flats in a lot of bigger buildings, so the housing is built up to the sky. Here it’s flat (he waves his hand around to show houses) and everybody has a little bit of garden.”

Bjorn’s wife, Jolanda Bombis-Robben, was a Dutch international handball left-winger who played 19 times for her country and scored 11 goals. He explained, “She stopped playing professionally in May, at the end of her season. It was a big day – she had tears in her eyes, and then there was a big party for her with fireworks. She’s stopped so that she can work on her Masters thesis and be here with me. During the last couple of years it was all about sports in our house – we both had games at the weekend and that was the main point in our lives, but now it’s changed a bit for her. She’s good with it, it’s a new chapter for her. I could see the emotions in her last game, and I was emotional too. I could feel that whenever the day comes when I stop playing professional sports, it will be a tough day. I told myself I want to play as long as possible!”

Having two sportspeople in the house makes watching each other play rather tricky. “Last season I watched a handful of her games, and she saw a handful of mine. She was also captain of her team, so she was very busy but we would always talk to each other about our games. The good thing is, we sometimes had the same problems – maybe her coach doesn’t play her as much as she wants to and I have the same kind of situation, so it’s good to have the same things in common and it’s easy to talk to and help each other.”

What was the reason behind wanting to move to the UK Having played almost the whole of his career to date in Germany? “That’s a good question! I played for one year in the Czech Republic, other than that I’ve played my whole career in Germany. I’ve played DEL and DEL2 and won a couple of championships in DEL2. I felt like a needed a new motivation. I played on a really good team for the last four years, we were winning a lot and I just felt like I wanted to prove that I can be a good player in a different league and a different environment. Even though I’m in my 30s I’m eager to prove that I can be a good player in this league. I was basically looking for a new motivation. It’s nice to experience another country and the culture, but that’s not my main thing. I’m not here for travelling or to enjoy my last year playing. I would love to play as long as possible, and maybe I can be here for a few years. That would be nice,” he reflects.

Having spent so long playing in one country, there’s a lot to get used to when you step on the ice in a different place. Are there any obvious differences between the two leagues? “It’s so early in the season that I haven’t played against all the teams, but my first impression is that the league has a lot of players with a better resume than in Germany and that the league is a little bit older. The players are not past their prime, they just have more experience, so I mean older in a good way. There’s not a lot of young players in this league. Maybe in Germany the play is a faster pace, but the hockey here feels like it’s a bit smarter, and it’s also more aggressive.”

Is there a noticeable difference in the training regime between the two countries? “That’s one of the biggest differences,” Bombis explains. “In Germany we have a lot of practices. Usually we have two games a week, then Tuesday and Wednesday we skate twice on each of those days. Over here in the UK we have to play more games in a shorter time, so the practices can’t be as hard, it just wouldn’t make sense. It’s fun to play more games instead of practicing more!”

Observant fans who arrive early might have noticed Bjorn and Jordan Pietrus moving a weighted puck around in their off ice warm up. “I use a weighted puck to practice stick handling, so that when I go on the ice the regular puck just feels very light to me. That means I can move it and I can get it fast into spots and if it’s in an awkward position I can get it into my sweet spot pretty quick. It helps me to activate the muscles for shooting.”

Bjorn isn’t the only hockey player in his family. He clearly caught the hockey bug from his father at an early age, and hopes to keep playing for as long as his Dad has. At 64, Bernd Bombis still ices regularly for EC Celler Oilers, in Germany’s fourth league. Last season he took 15 points from 18 games. Bjorn is clearly very proud of his Dad. “He takes his hockey very seriously. He takes game day naps and is acting like a professional even though he’s 64. For him it’s a big challenge to keep up with the younger guys, and obviously he’s a little bit slower than the other guys. He’s also the coach, so he decides how much ice time he has…. maybe he’s not the most honest guy about that sometimes, he plays a lot no matter what! I think I’m like my Dad. I’m a hockey nerd, I’m addicted. Twelve months a year I need a stick in my hand all the time – ball, inline, pond…I love hockey. No matter if anybody pays me for doing that, I want to play as long as I can.”




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Some useful SEND/Science pages

The good folks at STRATA have finally got around to updating their schemes of work in line with the more recent changes to the National Curriculum. They also have an amazing medium term planning tool now too


The Sheffield Hallam Science for All project has some interesting case studies

Science for all


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Jim Jorgensen #OnFire

Jim Jorgensen returns for his third season with the Blaze, and is very excited that he has been able to bring his dog with him this time!

Having been back in the country for a week Jim seems to have combatted the jetlag. “It didn’t take me long to get back into the routine and it’s nice to settle in.”

Staying with a known team or trying somewhere new is always a difficult decision for a player and their family to have to make, so what was the draw to re-signing for a further two seasons? “I’ve never felt more comfortable for a team ever,” said Jim, “so it was a really easy decision to make. My wife, Alekz, likes it here because she can work here as well. We both like to see the world and hockey gives us that opportunity. We love the country and I love playing hockey, and I’m not ready to be done yet.”

Does Jim see himself sticking around in Coventry for an even longer term? He explained “I’m signed for two more years, so we’ll have a look at the end of that and see where we’re at. We need to see if we are both still enjoying living and working here. I can’t say for certain, but I would like to probably end my career here.”

As we know, players from the USA and Canada enjoy using their time in the UK to travel through Europe, and Jim and his wife are no exception.  “At the end of last season we went to Italy and the Amalfi Coast which we really enjoyed, and we are looking to go to Croatia at the end of this season. We’ve been able to travel to Hungary, Greece and all sorts of places. We love how easy it is to travel Europe because it’s so much easier when you’re based here, and so much shorter travelling times.

And what does his wife Alekz think about living in Coventry? Jim explained “Being here fits well with married life. it’s tough, since we miss our family, but we’ve been able to bring our dog this season, so our own little family is here. It’s a big city, Coventry, but it’s got a small feeling and we like that. Like she says, as long we are together it doesn’t matter where we are. She’s been happy to follow me while I play hockey because she is a photographer so she can do her job while we are travelling. I wouldn’t make her follow me if she didn’t have a career that could move with her. She does weddings, senior high school photos, family shoots. She uses all natural light, and takes photos outside where she can, just using the sun. She had a couple of shoots in the spring before we left and she’ll pick up work again soon.” (http://juniperjamesphotography.com/)

Of course, with no studying or other job to do, there’s a lot of time that needs to be filled away from the rink. “I’m excited to be helping out with the learn to play programme a couple of times a week this season, where the kids come from school as I enjoying working with children. Sometimes it’s tough, but I like teaching the kids how to play hockey and to get them playing. I like to see them making progress. There’s still a lot of free time. I’ve watched every show on Netflix,” he laughed. “I like to take the dog for a walk and play with him. We go on day trips to Stratford and Warwick, and try to keep ourselves busy. There are times when you are bored, but it’s worth it to play hockey and it’s a good problem to have.”

And finally, does Jim see himself settling in Coventry once his playing days are over? “No. My family back home have a beer and wine distributing company, so I’ll probably get into that. My grandpa will never retire, but my Uncles and my dad are looking to retire in the next five or ten years, so it’s time for the next generation to take over. There’s no expectation that I will do it, but they would prefer it was family who took over. I’m also a trained strength coach, so I’d like to work developing kids for college and junior hockey off the ice as well as on the ice. I’ve been offered a straight job doing that at Lake Superior State University a few times, but it doesn’t pay much so I’d have to do other work as well, but it would be good to do something to do with my degree!”

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Of course, we also looked at the old faithful, plants. I’m sure that all special school classes grow plants every year, but the students I was working with had not been credited with their knowledge on our recording system, so off we went again.

Most of them were able to label a simple plant diagram, but struggled with the concept that trees were also plants, I think because we call the stem of a tree a ‘trunk’ and they look quite different!

What do plants need to grow

The experiment involved planting cress seeds in egg boxes (again, low cost equipment that was readily available). Students worked in small groups to plan their experiment, each member of staff having been told where to guide their group in terms of which of heat, light and water would be missing.

A week later and cress seeds and sprouts were removed from dark cupboards, the tops of lockers (sorry caretaker) and the fridge. Some brief discussion how being in the fridge wasn’t a fair test ensued – cold and dark – but students all were able to see that to grow well plants need all three of the above.

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The topic for the second part of the term was materials. We identified objects made from glass, paper, wood, plastic and metal and discussed the properties of these.

One of the downsides of not having a science space is that the equipment which was once there is spread around the school. This meant that what I wanted to use could not be found. Instead, we improvised.

As a class we planned an experiment to test how strong a range of materials were, made predictions and then after we had done the experiment drew bar charts and talked about our results.

For the experiment, we got a range of wet and dry materials, easily accessible from the classroom, and secured them either side of a gap between tables. In the absence of slotted masses (or indeed masses of any kind) we used jenga blocks – they are uniform enough to be able to be used as ‘units’ and for some reason I had an enormous box of them in the classroom. Conceptually, the students were able to see the amount of blocks, and were able to discuss stacking them as opposed to placing them randomly.

Testing materials

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I found this worksheet from @cleverfiend on the TES resources site.


This is quite a short activity, but I wanted to make it longer for my students, to elicit conversations and to check if there were any of the plants or animals which they did not know. There is a picture for each habitat, and one for each plant/animal mentioned.

know what a habitat is

It generated a lot of discussion – and a lot of mess! More able students were able to begin to explain how the plants and animals were adapted to their environments.

(KS3 students, p7-L2)

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