Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt will be competing at the NZSS National Netball Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Sacred Heart College qualified fifth from the Lower North Island tournament after narrowly missing out in previous years, pipping New Plymouth Girls’ High School 29-28 in a clutch penultimate match and then beating Newlands College 49-26 to seal their berth.
The 2017 Hutt Valley champions and Wellington region runners-up this year, Sacred Heart College are initially grouped in Pool B in Rotorua. They open their tournament against Christchurch’s St Margaret’s College and also play Waikato Dio on day one.
Some questions and answers below from coach Amy Atkinson.
School: Sacred Heart College Lower Hutt
Coach: Amy Atkinson
Captains: Bridie Burns (c) Charity Polu (vc)
Team Members: Bridie Burns, Charity Polu, Brooklyn Siemonek, Malia Pole’o, Taumaia Schuster, Nicola Donaldson, Livia Serepisos, Oakley Baldwin, Shaunee Mahuika, Pallas Potter, Taualai Sola, Danielle Tafili
What’s it going to take for your school to do well in the NZSS Nationals coming up in Rotorua?
Keep doing what we have been doing. We have a committed team of 12 players who are working towards the same goal.
What local competitions has your school team played in this year and how did your team go?
Our team played in both the Hutt Valley Secondary Schools premier 1 grade and the Wellington Regional Secondary Schools competition. We finished in first place for the Hutt Valley competition and second Place for Wellington Regional League. We also competed at Mission Cup, the annual Catholic Mission Schools tournament and won the tournament.
Who are your school’s closest rivals on the netball court?
We have two teams that we see as our rivals, both because we play them a number of times during the season and also because we respect them as netballers and the high standard of netball they produce. The first is St Oran’s from the Hutt Valley, who for the past three years we have played in the Hutt Valley Secondary Schools premier final. The second is St Marys College. We have an annual exchange with them and also play them in the Wellington Secondary Schools premier 1 competition.
Tell us about a memorable match your team has been involved in this year?
We have had the good fortune to be involved is so many outstanding and memorable games of netball this season where the team has had the opportunity to play quality sides and quality netball.
One such game was against New Plymouth Girls High School at LNISS.
It was a must win game for both sides for the opportunity to play off for a spot at Nationals the next morning. Three minutes left in the match we were down by 3 but the girls fought right to the end. With seconds left on the clock our centre took a glory intercept which we scored off in umpire’s time to win the match by one. The whole team went crazy in excitement and it was like we had won the world cup. We then went on the have a comfortable win the next morning to qualify for nationals.
What’s the age make-up of your team?
Our team is made up of Year 12 and 13 players.
What’s the strength of your team?
A strength of the team is how tight we are as a unit. Together the girls set the team goals and expectations for the season. Each girl worked hard all season to meet these expectations. We had a team of players who was prepared to do the work to achieve their goals.
Most of the team have played netball together for a long time progressed through the grades together and just two players from the squad of 12 are in their first year in the team.
Are there individuals in your team that also play other sports?
The number of sports the girls play in our team is far and wide. Pallas Potter is the captain of the New Zealand Junior White Sox, Danielle Tafili was in both the Central Netball Beko and Super Club Pulse teams, Bridie Burns is in the NZ U17 indoor netball team who won the world championships in July and we have representative players for Touch NZ, Water Polo and Volleyball. This variety brings a wealth of experience to the team from a high level of competition and performance.
Does your team have any pre or post game rituals or preparations?
At LNISS we set the ultimate goal of qualifying for nationals. The team then identified four things we had to do on and off the court to reach that goal. This was taped above to doorway to the entrance of our accommodation. As we left for every game, each girl would tap the goal on their way out and take a moment to reflect on the goal and what we wanted to achieve as a team.
What other support has your team received to get to allow it to operate at the level it does?
The parents of our team are amazing. They have been extraordinarily supportive this season with them packing the sidelines each week and also travelling to New Plymouth for LNISS to support our quest for Nationals. They ran fundraisers, supplied copious amounts of food while at tournament, on the scorecard every match and 100% believed in the team.
We have been extremely fortunate to have such an amazing mother as the manager of the team for the past two years who has also been the Ying to my Yang! She has been great to have on the sideline and a wonderful support.
We have been incredibly fortunate that the AMNICO Foundation has funded the team for Nationals with a significant sum of money, without this we would be sausage sizzling until next year!
The team is also grateful to Hutt Valley Secondary Schools Netball who gave the team a donation for nationals, and the school’s sports department who has also contributed financially and spent many hours preparing all the paperwork etc to get the team away on trips.
Finally, the support of the teachers at SHC who have given up their Monday nights to come and watch the girls play. The girls love it and really appreciate it.
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