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The Wairarapa College Girls First XI hockey team will be defending the New Zealand Secondary Schools Federation Cup later this year, after winning three thrilling games to take the title last September. In becoming 2014 national champions, Wairarapa College overcame Auckland Diocesan School for Girls and Christchurch’s Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in extra-time shootouts in their respective quarter-final and semi-final matches and then beat Dunedin’s St Hilda’s Collegiate 1-0 in the final.
The school’s boys’ hockey First XI finished second in their equivalent national tournament in 2014, the Rankin Cup, runners-up to winners Hamilton Boys’ High School.
Wairarapa College has won Federation cup (or its equivalent) more than any other school in New Zealand. They are also are one of only two schools to never have been relegated out of the top 16 in New Zealand and they have a very proud Hockey tradition that they are passionate about continuing.
We asked Wairarapa College Girls First XI hockey assistant coach Willie Schaefer to tell us some more about the team, below:
School: Wairarapa College
Team: 1st XI Girls Hockey Team
2015 team Coaching staff: Head Coach: Kelly Browne. Assistant Coach: Willie Schaefer. Manager: Jo Mossman.
2015 First XI captain: Brigette Mossman
Local and regional competitions playing in 2015: Wellington Premier 1 grade.
National competitions playing in 2015: Federation Cup (top 16 in New Zealand)
What is your team’s goal this year?
This year we hope to defend both the Wellington Premier Schoolgirls and National Federation Cup titles that we won last season.
How did the Wairarapa College First XI go in the few years prior to that?
This equivalent team also won the Federation Cup in 2011 and finished second in 2012, so last year was a continuation of this recent success.
Who are your rival schools?
Locally, our main rivals are [crosstown Masterton School] St Matthew’s Collegiate, who finished runners-up to us in the Wellington competition last year and third in the Federation Cup. Nationally, St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland, Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland, St Margaret’s College in Christchurch and Villa Maria College, also in Christchurch, have always been tough to play.
What in your team philosophy or culture sets you apart and aids in your success?
Hard work and commitment in working towards common goals.
Who are the regionally or nationally ranked or representative individuals within your team?
This year just Brigette Mossman (Capital U21 and U18 representative).
How many players are returning from last year to play in 2015 and what is their influence this year on younger team members?
There are 12 returning to our squad from last year. Their influence is to continue the successful culture that has been developed, and to set the benchmark for younger players in terms of behaviour, work ethic and attitude.
Are there individuals in your team that excel or are successful in other sports or off the sporting field?
They are all pretty well rounded individuals. Hanna Whitehead represents New Zealand in cross country equestrian, while there are three school prefects in the current team.
Are there former member from your girls or boys team who are currently ranked regionally or nationally?
Megan Hull (NZ futures), Katherine van Woerkom (Central NHL), Michael O’Connor (Capital U21s), Katie-Anne Saywell (Capital U21s) and Emma Smith (Capital U18s)
What challenges does your team overcome to get to the level they are playing now?
Cost is always a major barrier – travel to Wellington on a home and away basis. Consistency of performance. Balance between hockey and life. Lack of facilities – our school turf is old and unusable therefore the team has to travel to Carterton for trainings twice a week.
What other support has your team received to get to allow it to operate at the level it does?
We have fantastic parental support.