Many students were off re-charging their batteries over the recent school holidays. Not Year 11 Aorere College sporting all-rounder Theresa Ngata.
In the first week of the holidays she was in Nelson with her North Harbour side at the NZ U19 Netball Championships, where the defender was selected as the youngest member of the U19 tournament team.
Then it was a quick dash back home to Papatoetoe in Auckland to collect her passport and join school friend Meleitia Leilua and others for a trip overseas to Fort Lauderdale Florida, with the New Zealand Youth Women’s (NZ U16s) volleyball side to compete in the USA High Performance Volleyball Championships.
She also plays basketball for the Aorere College Senior A side who are playing James Cook High School tonight in the final of the Counties Manukau Senior Girls competition, while her older brother Albert Ngata is captain of the school’s First XV rugby team that this weekend defends the Mealamu Cup against Otahuhu College.
Back at school this week, College Sport Media caught up with Theresa about her sporting achievements.
College Sport Media: Please tell us about your recent trip to Florida to play volleyball?
Theresa Ngata: For 10 days I was lucky to represent my family, school and country in volleyball, a sport that I enjoy. Walking outside from the Florida airport for the first time was like walking into a sauna, it was so hot.
This was not my first trip overseas playing for NZ. Last year, around the same time as this trip I had the chance to represent the NZ U16 basketball team.
The expectation level of volleyball in USA is higher than the expectation level here in NZ. There were teams that my team and I had faced and had the potential to beat but the level of performance was faster and quite difficult to adjust to, but what really mattered each game is that we played for each other and obviously played at our best. Meeting girls from different states in the USA and also different nations was exciting because in the States I’m considered as short but here at home, I’m a giant.
CSM: Who else from your school and from Auckland was on this tour?
TN: Meleitia Leilua also from Aorere College and Tamara Otene from Westlake Girls’ High School were the two other girls from Auckland.
CSM: The previous week you were in Nelson playing in the NZ U19 netball championships?
TN: Yes, I represented the U19 North Harbour team. We played game-by-game and finished at the highest placing we could place which was fifth place.
CSM: And you made the tournament team, was that a goal heading into the tournament?
TN: Yes, because making the tournament team was a goal for me and my family, it was something I knew I had to work for and when the week was over I had felt like I had done my best to achieve it. I was kind of surprised - being the youngest one there meant I had to step up my game.
CSM: Is Aorere College hoping to qualify for the top 16 for the NZSS netball tournament in Lower Hutt later this year? How did you go last year?
TN: Yes my team and I are hoping to make top 16 and go well. Like every other team, we could’ve won some games and placed higher but knowing that it was our first time last year making A grade and finishing in the top 10, placing 10th out of 36 teams is pretty awesome I reckon.
CSM: How did your Aorere College team go in the NZZ Volleyball Championships back in April?
TN: We competed in division 1 and placed third, which is pretty good for our first year competing. The experience was so fun that we hope to compete again in the upcoming years.
CSM: You’ve also previously played basketball to a high level?
TN: When I first started playing Basketball in 2014 I represented Counties Manukau, the next year I played for the Auckland Counties Manukau U15 girls basketball team and from that same team I was invited to trial for the NZ U16 girls team.
CSM: You’re still playing basketball for your school?
TN: Yes. At the moment we have been going very well in our competition at the Otara Recreation Centre and we have made finals and playing James Cook High School this week.
CSM: You’ve had to recently give representative basketball up to concentrate on the other sports?
TN: Yes, late last year I had to give up representative basketball this year for volleyball and it was a difficult decision for me because it is a sport that I enjoy but it’s good to try new things.
CSM: Do you or have you played other sports as well?
TN: I have played Touch and also AFL
CSM: Of the three court sports, netball, volleyball and basketball, how long have you been playing each?
TN: I started playing netball when I was 9 years old and haven’t stopped playing since then so I have been playing for five and a half years. I’ve been playing Basketball for three and a half years and I’ve been playing Volleyball for four and a half years.
CSM: When you’re not competing, what’s a typical week-day routine for you?
TN: Usually I will have training everyday plus games during the week - but the only day I get to rest are Sundays.
CSM: Who are the coaches and people that help you and support you?
TN: A Shout out to the Aorere College Sport Department. And to my family who has been there right from the beginning and I am truly grateful to have such supportive and loving family.
CSM: Speaking of family, your brothers are rugby players?
TN: Both my brothers play rugby. Siope Ngata, who is currently studying at university and playing rugby for Papatoetoe. Albert Ngata is captain of the Aorere College First XV. I also have three younger brothers that play sports such as rugby and basketball.
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