Sport at Rosmini College is on fire. The senior basketballers are National champions, the First XI cricketers are bound for Nationals in December, and the First XI hockey team recently won the Super City competition after finishing sixth last year.
Isaac Houlbrooke is a member of the hockey outfit and the schools’ Sports Captain. Why is sport in such good health at Rosmini?
“We’ve got good coaches and high involvement. As a sports captain I try to lead by example and encourage the leaders of the other codes to do the same,” Houlbrooke answered.
Houlbrooke has led by example in hockey. The central midfielder was selected in the New Zealand Under 18 squad and has helped transform Rosmini into a dogged and accomplished outfit; highly regarded for their defence.
Rosmini only conceded four goals in eight games en route to the Super City title. Houlbrooke identifies a turning point in the season.
“We lost to Westlake in the North Harbour final and made some changes to our defence. We work really hard on defence, even if you are an attacking player,” he stressed.
“We started the Super City competition with tough wins against King’s and St Kent’s, two of the best teams in the country. At that point I knew we had the goods.”
Rosmini again stumbled to Westlake, but was undefeated against all the other six schools in the Super City competition, establishing a final against National champions St Kentigern College. Houlbrooke was to play a major role in Rosmini’s triumph.
“I scored in the first-half when I ran into the circle and reserved past the keeper,” he reflected.
“Our second goal was scored by our striker Jeevan Concisom who ran down the sideline and crossed to the edge of the circle. The ball took some lucky touches and went into the net. You need a bit of luck, but we kept hustling and managed to keep a very good side out.”
Houlbrooke is one of six Under 18 hockey players in the Sport New Zealand, Pathway to Podium program which provides annual support for leading athletes with training, diet and management.
Houlbrooke’s talents aren’t exclusively confined to hockey. He is a four-time Auckland lacrosse champion with Rosmini and has even traveled to Australia with his school for that code.
“I got into a few years back with some mates from school. We really enjoy it and have fundraisers to help us meet the costs of playing. I’m an attacking player,” Houlbrooke reveals.
There are four clubs in Auckland and Houlbrooke is aligned with Harbour who play at Nixon Park, Kingsland.
Rosmini’s tour of Australia took them as far as Perth as they made up the numbers in the Australian championships.
Rosmini don’t expect to be making up the numbers at the Rankin Cup in Christchurch next week. Rosmini are grouped with King’s High School, Dunedin, Wanganui High School and Wellington College.
“There’s a lot of good sides at Rankin. We’ll be taking things one game at a time, but we have a lot of experience and confidence,” Houlbrooke concluded.
The Capital Women’s U18 team recently finished fourth at the New Zealand U18 Regional Tournament played at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington. The team’s goalkeeper Amy Rossiter-Stead was subsequently selected as one of four Wellington region players in the New Zealand U18 squads.
Amy has had a busy season playing for both the Wairarapa College First XI team and for Dalefield in Wellington club hockey competition.
College Sport Media met Amy caught up with Amy ahead of the Federation Cup tournament that runs all next week in Auckland.
How did you and Capital U18 go at the recent national tournament?
This is my second year playing in the tournament for the Capital U18 Women’s team. This year was really enjoyable for me as I was one of the senior players in the team and was also in the leadership group. We had a very successful tournament, placing fourth, which was a massive improvement from last year where we finished eighth. We placed second in our pool to the champions Central and then beat Canterbury in the top four play-offs. Unfortunately we were unlucky to lose the bronze medal match on the final day.
What were some highlights, from a team an personal perspective?
A major highlight was to be able to see how much a positive team culture can influence a team. This year a key focus was on our culture and I think it really showed in our performances at national tournament. We had faith in every team member and our awesome coaching/management staff who helped us thrive.
My personal highlight would have to be beating Canterbury in shootouts after a 4-4 draw in normal time. They are always a classy side, so to save 4 out of their 5 shootout attempts was definitely the highlight of the tournament. I have been working especially hard on shootout technique with my coach Steffan from the LEAP Goalkeeping Academy so I was really pleased with the outcome of this game.
Congratulations on being selected for the NZ U18 squad – was this squad selected directly from the National U18 tournament and was selection a surprise for you?
It has always been a dream of mine to make a New Zealand team, but at tournament there were a lot of quality goalkeepers so I knew it would be tough to be selected. The squad is selected from your performance at national tournament so I couldn’t quite believe it when I got the text from Dane Lett letting me know I’d made it, but its pleasing to see hard work does pay off in the end. I have had such a supportive group of people make this possible for me and I’m really grateful to my coaches, team-mates, parents and sponsors for everything they’ve done for me.
Is there a training camp coming up?
From what I understand it’s a series of training camps across the country and games within the squad. The first one is in Mount Maunganui in October. It’s basically to gather all the best U18 players in the country in one squad and expose them to a national squad environment.
Who else from the Wairarapa was selected for the National U18 squad?
Ollie Bunny was selected for the New Zealand U18 men’s squad which is pretty outstanding. He also attends Wairarapa College and he captained the Capital U18 men this year.
When did you start playing hockey and how did you become a goalkeeper?
My hockey journey started when I was five where I played for my local Kia Kaha hockey club in Greytown. I have represented Wairarapa since the age of nine, starting on the field as a defender. When I was 11 my mum needed a goalie for her women’s team that played in the local competition so she asked if I would put on the pads and stand in the goal for her. It turned out I really enjoyed the thrill of being a goalkeeper and loved the specialised role. Since then I have only ever played goalie and wouldn’t change it for the world.
The thing I love most about being a goalkeeper is that it’s completely different to any other position on the field. It is also quite creative with the shootout aspect which I love. It does require a different kind of fitness to a regular outfield player. It’s essentially a lot of hours in the gym building up your strength and working on explosive and agile movements. We don’t have to run long distances, but we have to be fast and powerful!
Tell us a bit about your gear as a goalkeeper?
There is a lot of (very expensive!) gear involved in being a goalkeeper. In total there are 15 pieces of equipment that I have to wear which includes groin pad, shorts, kickers, leg guard, chest guard, arm guards, a goalie top (different from the field players), a helmet, gloves and a stick (I use a special goalie stick but many goalkeepers prefer a regular field stick.)
What about when games go to extra time and you might have to abandon your goal?
This rule varies from tournament to tournament. At the national tournament it went straight to shootouts after a draw which is very exciting and my favourite part of the game! Some tournaments allow the goalie to remain on the turf for extra time, but it just depends on the rules.
Have you played in the Federation Cup before?
This will be my first year playing in Federation Cup which will be really exciting. I previously attended Solway College for six years who play in the local Wairarapa competition, but I knew I needed to be playing in a Wellington competition on a weekly basis to further my hockey. Wairarapa College placed 20th in the country in 2018 so we have big goals around this year’s competition. We have a tough pool, but if we keep training hard I’m confident we will succeed.
I am privileged to be in a team with a really positive team culture and all the girls work really hard at training so it’s a great environment to be in. We are lucky to have experienced and positive coaching staff as well lead by Mr Willie Schaefer.
In club hockey, you played for Dalefield this season. Tell us a bit about how the club season?
This is my second year playing for Dalefield Premier Women. I really owe it to Dalefield for helping me achieve my goals in hockey. Playing in the Wellington Premier 1 competition, I am exposed to the best players in the region every week. I have learnt so much from experienced players including Katherine van Woerkom and Michael O’Connor who have played for various Capital and New Zealand teams. Unfortunately we lost against Victoria University on Saturday which puts us in the 3rd and 4th playoff. Even though this is not where we ideally wanted to end up, I have learnt so much this season and can’t thank our coach Michael and manager Karen enough for the hours they devote to our amazing club.
How many of your school teammates play for Dalefield?
There are four Wairarapa College girls who play for Dalefield which is really cool. We learn so much off the senior girls, but we are also exposed to members of the Dalefield men’s team such as Benedict van Woerkom and Black Stick Dane Lett, who help out with trainings and share their knowledge which is invaluable.
Outside of hockey, have you played other sports?
I used to be a competitive swimmer, my best event was 200m butterfly and when I was 12 years old I placed 11th at the New Zealand Junior Swimming Championships, but I stopped swimming when I was 14. I also used to play Cricket for the Solway First XI and have played at a representative level as well, Wairarapa U15s. However, hockey became my priority and I devote all my attention towards that at the moment, but in the summer months I do Cross Fit which has been so useful to my goalkeeping position due to the strength and plyometric component.
The Federation Cup/Marie Fry tournament is in Auckland from 2/7 September. Wairarapa College are in Pool D with Villa Maria College, St Andrew’s College and Wellington Girls’ College.
The Wellington Girls’ College First XI hockey team have been big improvers in secondary school sport in 2019.
Now they are hoping to carry their good form in the Wellington Secondary School P1 competition on to the national stage when they line up in the Federation Cup/Marie Fry tournament alongside the best 32 girls hockey schools in the country.
Last Friday, they won the Wellington competition in style, beating St Matthew’s Collegiate 5-0 in the final at the National Hockey Stadium. They scored their first goal after 45 seconds and kept the pressure on to the end to register an unbeaten season and to achieve what no WGC side has done since any of the current players have been alive.
“This is the first time we have won P1 in 19 years,” said head coach Riley Jennings.
“In 2000 they drew the final, so they shared the trophy that year, and the last time they won it outright was 1998.”
In 2013 the WGC First XI dropped to Premier 2. “So it has been about a six-year re-build to get them back into the Premier 1 division and then to work their way up the ranks.”
This is coach Riley’s third season in charge of the team, with Bjorn Dix the assistant coach.
The team won all 10 round-robin games heading into the playoffs in the just completed school competition, also winning the annual pre-season grading tournament unbeaten.
They beat St Matthew’s Collegiate 3-1 in their first playoff match to advance straight to the final before beating them again 5-0 in the decider after St Matthew’s had beaten Wairarapa College 2-1 in major semi-final the week between.
“We played St Matthew’s three times this term including the final and won all three and beat them over the hill, and built some momentum and allowed the girls to back themselves and build some momentum.”
The future is bright for the WGC hockey programme.
“We have got a mix of year 10 to year 13 players, said Riley. “With five year 13s in the current group there are a lot of players coming back next year.”
There were five players in the recent Capital U18 side that finished third at the National U18 Championships in July in Wellington and one player that made the New Zealand U18 Women’s squad that was selected afterwards.
That player is Ruby Baker, who is year 11 and the team’s striker, and a player to build the team around in 2020 and 2021.
The WGC second XI also made their Premier 2 final, missing out to Paraparaumu College 0-3 in their decider.
Caitlin Rennie is the team’s centre back and captain. In 10 regular season Premier 1 games, WGC scored exactly 50 goals and conceded just four.
Caitlin put this impressive defensive record down to experience.
“it is a whole team game and there are two other year 13s at the back with me and they have been there pretty much as long as I have so I think the strong bond we have at the back certainly helps,” said Caitlin.
Caitlin said the season as a whole has been a major highlight. “Going undefeated throughout the season was a special achievement for us,” she said. “But one game where we sort of strived to keep the energy up was our traditional against Wellington East Girls’ College. I think the feeling we had in that game and the momentum we built in it is something we are trying to replicate in all our games.”
Several players also play club hockey, and three were involved in the recent Wellington Women’s club final between winners Harbour City and Hutt United - Katherine Winter, Ruby Baker (both Hutt United) and Sorita Pho (Harbour City).
Next up is the Federation Cup NZSS Division 1 tournament in Auckland over Winter Tournament Week.
“It is definitely very exciting for us but it is also unknown territory for us because none of us in the team has ever been to Fed Cup before,” said Caitlin.
Coach Riley agreed.
“We won the [second division] Jenny Hair tournament last year and finished second in Premier 1 in Wellington. We are a little bit unsure of what we are expecting, but we are hoping for a decent finish,” said Riley.
“There are 32 teams and there are four knockout games in a row if you want to win it, so it is pretty cut-throat.”
WGC are in the same pool as Wairarapa College, who finished third in the Wellington competition, and Christchurch schools Villa Maria College and St Andrew’s College.
Above left: Jana Niedermayr and Above right: India Ralph with school teammate and Central Hockey U18 teammate Kaleigh Morris. PHOTOS: Sacred Heart Girls' College and Hockey NZ.
A pair of year 12 Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth students won national titles for Central teams in their representative tournaments last month in Wellington.
Jana Niedermayr (football and futsal) was part of the Central U16 Futsal side that won their maiden Age Grade Nationals title, beating Auckland 4-3 in the final, and India Ralph (hockey) was part of the Central U18 team that won a three-peat of National U18 hockey titles, defeating Auckland 3-0 in the final.
Both will be lining up for their school’s respective football and hockey First XIs in Winter Tournament Week in early September.
College Sport Media caught up with both for a double profile – questions and answers below.
College Sport Media: Congratulations on winning your tournaments over the school holidays – what were a couple of personal and team highlights?
Jana Niedermayr: A highlight for me personally would have been being named MVP of the team in the game against Auckland, and winning was the major team highlight. Plus scoring in the other games of the tournament. The game was close the whole time. I think we got the first goal but were playing catch up until the end. it was a high intensity game and resulted in the "stronger" team being played mainly, I was lucky enough to be in that team so I got a little extra game time most of the games. Going into the game we knew it was definitely going to be our hardest game and it could have gone either way. Luckily we got some nice goals which made us fight harder for the win and raise our intensity.
India Ralph: I have many highlights playing for Central in the National U18 hockey tournament. Definitely one of my biggest highlights would be making the final and going on to win for the third time in a row. Another huge highlight for me and the team would be the Central U18 boys securing a spot in the final, it was an awesome experience to have both central teams playing with the final.
From the Central U18 girls campaign I took away many valuable life lessons. My coaching team that consisted of Verity Sharland and Georgia Barnett taught me the true meaning of teamwork and worked hard to encourage our team to display these values on the field. Being given the opportunity to play for a team that puts their body on the line for each other is something I will always cherish and I have definitely continued to develop as a player as a result of this environment.
Within my team we had a lot of discussion around what is going to get us to the final, and we always came back to the theme of teamwork. As a team, before every game we would reflect largely on quotes that my coach Verity had selected. The quote “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team” was something that always stuck with me and really influenced my perspective around the game of hockey. My coaches and management team made it very clear that as a team if wanted to win for the third year in a row we needed to do it together. We had to have the desire to put everything out on the field for one another, it couldn’t be individual efforts that would gain us a spot in the final. I have been taught through this campaign to not dwell on my mistakes as it distracts me from what really matters. Throughout the 2 years that I have played for Central I have learnt the true essence of living in the moment.
CSM: Who were the other players from your school and from Taranaki in your winning tournament teams?
Jana: I was the only player from Sacred Heart Girls' College New Plymouth. However there were three other girls from Taranaki in the team that I also play football with: Eve and Tessa Barry and Amelia Simmers from New Plymouth Girls' High School.
India: Four Taranaki Girls were named in the Central U18 Girls team that won the National U18 hockey title. My school teammate who also attends New Plymouth Sacred Heart Girls College, Kaleigh Morris and Kate Atkinson and Natalia Roughton from New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
Three Taranaki Boys were named in the Central U18 Boys team that came second in the National U18 hockey tournament. Branden Russ and Daniel Foss from New Plymouth Boys’ High School, and past Francis Douglas Memorial College student, Liam McSweeney.
CSM: What positions do you play and have you always been that position?
Jana: In football I play as a centre back (CB) or a full back (FB) on either side. Occasionally I have been played as a winger, but I have played defence my whole life. Although it was only in the last couple of years that I began playing full back not just CB. In futsal I mainly play fixo but occasionally play flanker as well. In futsal the players are meant to be constantly rotating so positions change throughout the play.
India: I play several positions on the hockey field, but I prominently am a defender. I play screen for school and club league and wing half for Central. I have always played a defensive role from a young age, I think this was influenced by my sister [see below]. My sister is a forward, so I always had to play as a defender in the garden when we practiced.
CSM: Tell us about what football/hockey teams you play for, as well as for school?
Jana: I currently play for the football club Palmerston North Marist in the Wellington league. I hope to make the National Age Group Team for the National age group tournament (NAGT) and the central womens team again to play in the national women league (NWL). Highlights for me would be making tournament team at NAGT, making the NZ ID camps since I have been 14 in preparation for selection for the FIFA U17 World Cup, making the NZSS u17 team to go to Dallas April 2019 and being named a MVP and making the U16 NZ team that went to China. However due to me not being born in NZ [born in the USA] but only having had a NZ passport for less than a year I have had to apply for dispensation with FIFA and was therefore not allowed to play. I am still waiting for dispensation.
India: I have represented Taranaki in rep hockey for many years. Although I haven’t represented them in the past two years, I still have many highlights from playing rep hockey for Taranaki at a young age. I have played U11’s, U’13, U15’s for Taranaki hockey and always enjoyed the atmosphere of the tournaments. Playing for Taranaki has enabled me to build friendships with other players within my association that don’t attend my school. I have made so many close friends through the Taranaki hockey programmes and I have loved playing alongside such an amazing bunch of girls.
I play club hockey for Northern United. We recently beat Hawera in the final, securing us the fourth competition win in a row. I always look forward to playing club hockey because I get to play alongside some experienced players that have taught me a lot about the game. The competition within the club league is always strong and I enjoy playing against some experienced players.
CSM: Jana, tell us a bit more about your trip to Dallas last year?
Jana: The NZSS U17 team was an amazing experience. it was so cool being able to play against girls from different countries who play a different style of football. I learnt a lot throughout the tournament. Highlights of the trip would have been being named one of the MVPs and being scouted for potential scholarships. I have travelled to Australia for football with the NZSS u15 team in 2018.
CSM: Jana, what is coming up in representative football for you?
Jana: Rep football has recently started here in Taranaki. I am hoping to make the 03/04 feds team going to Wellington for NAGT at the end of the year. From that tournament I am hoping to make it into the NZ ID camps for the U17 World Cup in 2020. I am also hoping to make the central women’s team in the NWL. Qualifiers for the 2020 World Cup is in December so I am aiming to make that team as well. However my main goal is the 2020 U17 World Cup team.
CSM: India, Your older sister Hope Ralph is in the U21 Black Sticks and in the Black Sticks Development squad and your mum is your school coach, hockey runs in your family?
India: For as long as I can remember hockey has been a big part of my family. The amount of support from my parents growing up has been incredible, my mum has always coached me and my sister through school and club league and my dad can always be heard shouting from the sidelines. My sisters successes within hockey has definitely inspired me to continue to work hard. After making the New Zealand U21 Black Sticks and being named in the Black Sticks Development, I have never been so proud of my sister and her hard work. Although my sister hates it when I call her my idol, she is definitely someone that I aspire to be like. I have been very fortunate to grow up playing alongside my sister from school, club and regional hockey teams and she has continued to teach me a lot within that time. I have always admired my sister's passion for the game and I praise her for not giving up on her dreams. My sister’s strong work ethic is definitely something that inspires me every day, and I am always in awe to how she can juggle university on top of training at such a high level. My sister has always supported/encouraged me through hockey and has really opened up my eyes up to if you have the desire to achieve something and keep working hard, you will not go unrewarded. Although I complain when she forces me to go to the turf with her and makes me pace her on a bike when she goes running, I really wouldn’t trade it for anything. It makes me so happy to see that my sister is being rewarded for following her passion and I hope one day I can play alongside her.
CSM: Tell us about your school football/hockey and preparations for the NZSS tournaments in Winter Tournament Week?
Jana: Our school team plays against the New Plymouth Girls' high first XI who we recently beat. In preparation for nationals at the beginning of September we also play in exchanges with other schools such as Hillcrest and Palmerston North Girls’ High first XI.
We have been training for the tournament the whole year. Last year we came 17th, the year prior we came 27th I think and in 2016 we came 15th.
India: We have recently come off a 3-0 loss in the final of the school premier league game to New Plymouth Girls’ High School, who bring a high level of competition to the school's league and similar to my school team they display a strong desire to not give up and will continue to drive until the final whistle. Personally, I believe this makes playing against them not come easy to any team. As the Sacred Heart First XI Captain it is always an amazing opportunity to play against such a well put together side and although Girls’ High are considered our “rivals” their sportsmanship on and off the field and team spirit is valued by many teams. I have had the privilege to play alongside some of the Girls’ High players in rep team and regional tournaments and I can say that you can always count on them to bring some banter to practice.
It is definitely a goal for our team to re-earn promotion into Federation Cup. Last year, after we got relegated to play in the Jenny Hair tournament in 2019 we have been working on rebuilding as a team since. This year, we have had a lot of build-up games leading up to tournament, which has gained us more confidence in our ability as a team. I look forward to seeing how we go at tournament and if we have success within it.
CSM: After the school nationals, what is coming up before the end of the year?
Jana: After nationals school football is over. However that is the start of the reps/feds season with game days in Whanganui, Palmerston North and Napier. The NWL season begins afterwards as well. There is normally only a 3 week break after NAGT which is in December before trainings start again.
India: At the end of the hockey season, I start strength and conditioning training. Although the season will be over my desire to keep achieving makes me work hard on the off season and you can always see me hitting at the turf when I have the time. I have always preferred to continue to train hard in the off season because I believe it makes it easier to keep my skills consistent and helps me stay focused. I usually play summer league hockey with my friends for fun but otherwise I will just keep up my running to maintain my fitness and go to the turf in my own time to work on perfecting my skills.
CSM: Last, What are you doing in school and what are your favourite and least favourite subjects?
Jana: I am doing NCEA level 2. My favourite subject would probably be physics or chemistry. While my least favourite subject would be English.
India: I am Level 2 at. Although I enjoy all the subjects I take this year, I do specifically enjoy learning Chemistry and Physics. I wouldn’t say that I have a least favourite subject.
CSM: Thank you both for your time and good luck for Winter Tournament Week and for the future!
A handful of the St Bede’s College First XI hockey team have played together for a number of years.
Captain Joey Morrison leads a cohort of boys from the Marist club who were dominant at the intermediate level, but had failed to repeat the success at Papanui.
It was clear things had to change in 2019 to avoid a repeat of the disappointing fifth-placed finish in the Canterbury Premiership last year.
“In the past our only pre-season was an ANZAC tournament,” Morrison reveals.
“We have a lot of Year 13’s and decided if we were going to achieve anything this year we had to substantially increase our work and skills,” he said.
Personalised fitness programs, accompanied with morning practice, gym visits and skills sessions were introduced. Coach Matt Walcott benefited greatly from a period in the UK.
“Matt’s been the coach since I first made the First XI in Year 9. He’s always been really supportive, but when he came back from England he was way more hands on and had increased his skill-set,” Morrison explains.
“Ben Grimshaw is a good assistant too. We all have greater work ethic.”
St Bede’s have just gone through the round-robin of the Connetics League unbeaten. In 11 matches they achieved eight wins and three draws, outscoring opponents 31-14.
On July 26, St Bede’s won the Connetics Challenge Shield for the first time, edging perennial powerhouses St Andrew’s College 1-0.
“We had never got our hands on it before so it was a great win,” Morrison enthused.
“We managed to get an early goal through James McSweeney and held on after a great performance by our goalie Duncan Kennett who is usually in the 2nd XI.”
The suppression of StAC was a triumph for the St Bede’s defence. St Bede’s have conceded the fewest goals in the competition, while St Andrew’s have scored the most goals.
“We really pride ourselves on defence. My co-captain is Charlie Hall who is the leader of the defence. He’s really explosive and leads by example,” Morrison acclaimed.
Christ’s College have set the benchmark in Christchurch the past two seasons. In 2017 they won the Rankin Cup Nationals and returned to the final 12 months ago. Morrison had never beaten Christ’s until this season.
“It’s fair to say I’ve been part of a few hidings by Christ’s; one time they beat us 8-0 or something ridiculous like that,” Morrison mourned
“They’re pretty handy again, but we’ve beaten them 2-1 in both games and were better in the second game. In the first game George Baker scored a PC with the last shot. In the second game we got up 2-0 and let them back into it.”
St Bede’s beat fierce rivals Christchurch Boys’ High School 2-1 and 5-2.
Morrison, a sound defending and precise distributing midfielder, has been selected for the New Zealand Under-18 training squad in September in Mount Maunganui, alongside St Bede’s teammate George Baker.
However the immediate focus is next week’s local semi-finals and the bid to improve from a 23rd place in New Zealand 12 months ago.
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