Three Villa Maria College representative netballers are also going places fast off the court.
All three are key members of the school’s Senior A netball side and are in the Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad, while also each excelling in other sports.
Georgia Stroud is year 13 and plays in the midcourt and is a middle distance runner and national U19 surf life saving champion. Hannah Glen is year 13 and a goal shoot and goal attack and a recent Maadi Cup rowing medallist. Olivia Burnham is year 12 and a defender and a track runner and Pathway to Podium athlete.
Georgia says that school netball has been underway since the start of this term. “We have been playing since the start of the term and this Saturday we have a promotion-relegation match to move up to the Premier 2 grade, which would be good as it’s really competitive this year.”
The Premier 2 club netball grade in the Christchurch Netball Centre competitions is the grade that the top secondary school teams play in. The leading Canterbury schools also play in the secondary school SuperNet competition on Wednesdays, which runs until late August and features a first round-robin followed by a top four-bottom four series.
Last year Villa Maria finished fourth in the School Sport Canterbury SuperNet competition, losing to Ashburton College 42-30 in the third placed playoff.
Making the NZSS nationals this year is a definite goal for Villa Maria, who have got a strong record at the national tournament but not in recent years, having won in 2008 and finished in the top four on three occasions prior to that.
Last year, rivals Christchurch Girls’ High School and St Andrew’s College were the two Christchurch schools represented at nationals, and to qualify this year Villa Maria must finish in the top five at the SISS Championships in Winter Tournament Week.
Representative netball tournaments are also in July. “Hannah and I just got named in the Canterbury U19s and Olivia has been selected in the U17s,” says Georgia who will be pushing for selection in the final New Zealand secondary school team that plays matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September. Georgia was the only Canterbury player selected in this year’s 23-strong initial NZSS squad following the camp in Cambridge that all three players were invited to.
The Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad that all three are in is unique amongst the six franchises in that it is the highest elite franchise squad for Mainland secondary school netballers. Unlike the other five franchises, school players are not eligible for selection in the Beko of Tactix squads.
As well as netball, Georgia is busy with two other sports. “Over the summer I do athletics and surf-lifesaving,” she enthuses.
In February at the National Surf Life Saving Championships in Gisborne, she won gold in the U19km beach run and backed that up with silver in the open women’s 2km beach run.
On the track, she’s a middle distance runner, racing the 400m, 800m and 1500m distances.
Georgia won the Senior Girls 800m at the SISS Athletics championships in Timaru in March, in a time that would have seen her medal at the NZSS Championships in December.
Also at the SISS meet in March, Villa Maria’s 4 x 400m team of Georgia, Olivia, Julia Burnham (Olivia’s sister and year 10) and Kate Davies (year 11) not only won the SISS title but they also set a new SISS record time of 3.58.16.
The NZSS Senior Girls 4 x 400m record is 3.58.41, set by Howick College in 2009, so the Villa Maria team is looking forward to competing at this year’s national championships in Dunedin. Last year they won silver at nationals, after winning this same event in 2016.
Georgia gets her sporting talent from her family. Her mother Helen is a former Black Ferns rugby player and Canterbury netball representative and the Villa Maria’s Senior A netball coach, while her father Alan is a former All Whites goal-keeper.
As well as being in the Baby Beko netball squad, Olivia is in her second year in the Pathway to Podium programme for athletics.
A 400m runner and hurdler, Olivia says the March’s SISS 4 x 400m win and record was good personal reward following a difficult past few months.
“I spent the summer coming back from a netball injury I got at the U17 nationals last year. I went over on my ankle and I was out for about six weeks. That also put my training back and it was really hard for me.”
Olivia is focusing on netball, while also training for athletics over the winter.
“It is quite hard switching between athletics and netball, they are two completely different sports so that is a challenge,” explains Olivia.
“It is just a matter of being able to keep the consistency with my training and balancing out netball and athletics.”
Hannah is kept busy rowing in the summer and playing netball in the winter.
“I got bronze in the U18 quad at Maadi Cup. The other crew members were Kathryn Glen, Charlotte Freeman, Madeleine Davidson and our cox Emily Beattie.
“Kathryn is my cousin who got named in the NZ Junior rowing team rowing team and won bronze in the U18 single sculls.”
Previously, the crew had won the U18 quad at the SISS rowing championships. “This put us in a good position going forward to the Maadi Cup, we all knew we had a chance to do well. We qualified sixth for the final and pulled forward and finished third.”
This is only Hannah’s second year of rowing, after winning bronze in 2017 in the U17 double with Kathryn at her first Maadi Cup.
Like Olivia with her athletics, Hannah says that the adjustment from elite rowing and netball is a challenge. “The crossover from the two sports is quite difficult, getting the footwork back as opposed to sitting down on a boat, and also because the two seasons clash as one finishes and another starts.”
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