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Playing in and training for multiple sports, representing New Zealand in two of them, and also being a sports prefect at a successful sporting school means Wellington East Girls’ College’s Selina Duggan has a lot on her plate.
She’s a double international in waterpolo and volleyball and a defender in her school’s netball team that finished third at the recent NZ Secondary School Championships. She also plays beach volleyball and basketball and Sevens rugby for her school. Selina finds time for it all.
After spending the first week of the school holidays in Thailand with the NZ U21 Girls’ volleyball team, Selina travelled straight on to Ashburton to join her netball teammates, four of whom subsequently made the tournament team.
“I was lucky enough that the timing worked and I flew straight from Thailand to Ashburton with only missing out on two round-robin games on the first day. I managed to compete with my team for the rest of the tournament which I was so happy to do, being my final year playing school netball with them after five years together,” she said.
Selina gave College Sport Media an in-depth insight to her busy sporting life:
Please explain your recent tour to Thailand with the NZ U21 volleyball team?
Travelling to Thailand was an amazing experience. Each day followed a similar routine with high intensity training at the Volleyball Institute of Bangkok in the mornings for three hours before playing against local university teams in the afternoons. The volleyball was nothing like I had previously experienced with the opposition being fast, loud and with the capability to not let the ball hit the ground on their side of the net. Not only was the opposition foreign but the environment with the heat and humidity was nothing like I’d experienced before in NZ.
We had a management team of three highly experienced ex volleyball players who expected a certain standard of us as players and wouldn’t be afraid of training at an activity until these standards were reached. The aim of our tour wasn’t wholly based on the results but more implementing the skills we had been learning in the trainings and to get some international games under our belt in preparation for the Asian Champs in 2017. I am very happy with how I performed over there and hope to keep increasing my volleyball skill with the years to come.
What was the composition of the New Zealand squad in Thailand?
Everyone was still at school in their final year bar one girl, and I was the second youngest but the most inexperienced in volleyball as I was the only one who hadn’t represented NZ before.
Previously, you’ve represented New Zealand in the pool, in waterpolo?
I first represented NZ when I was 14 making the U15 NZ waterpolo team that played in a tri-series tournament against NSW and Queensland. I was selected MVP of the tournament. The following year I made the U17 NZ team which travelled to Canberra to face a mixture of international teams including Japan, China and Australia. For two years I was selected in the New Zealand secondary school team competing against Australia in the Tri Tasman series, with us taking out the title last December for the first time in six years. Last year I also was a part of the junior women NZ team that travelled to Spain to compete in the Youth World Championships.
How do these sports complement each other?
The first thing what I am able to transfer and what has helped me out between sports is probably communication. While being goalie for waterpolo I had the job of communicating to the whole team on defence and directing the positional play, I also had to learn to give orders to people who were older than me due to playing in senior women’s teams at a young age. This gave me the confidence in myself to be able to talk to a wide range of people and know that communication is a key part to a successful sporting team.
Fitness is something that is interchangeable through my sports and having to train in different sporting codes meant that my overall strength and fitness improved while doing so, although I have found different sports demand different types of fitness.
You also play basketball and Sevens rugby for your school?
I have played in the senior A basketball team for the past three years, but Wellington East has not qualified for these tournaments. I’m lucky enough to be a part of the WEGC Sevens team, and we’ve started the season off with a bang taking out our first tournament this Saturday just gone, the Derek Wootton Memorial Cup tournament.
Do any of your sports take precedence over the others?
Waterpolo was my priority until last year which did mean sacrificing volleyball and netball to the level I would have liked to try and compete at. Even though I prioritised waterpolo I was still able to keep participating in both volleyball and netball to a regional representative level but I was wanting to see if I could take my volleyball to the next level of representing NZ which is why I made the decision this year to sacrifice my waterpolo to concentrate on volleyball.
When you’re not competing, what’s a typical week-day routine for you?
Although the level of training has dropped somewhat since giving up waterpolo, I can generally train anywhere up from 30 hours a week depending on what sports are overlapping. If I don’t have an organised sports practice in the morning I’ll do a gym session so am training every morning for an hour to an hour and half. Then in the evening I’ll alternate between Sevens training twice a week, netball training twice a week and volleyball training once a week for school and then once a week with the boys’ team. I’ve also started playing beach volleyball once a week. To keep the intensity of the volleyball training up to the level that I need to stay competitive for NZ I do extra training with the boys and also do specific PT volleyball sessions. Now that the season is winding up for volleyball and netball has finished I’ll need to ensure that I replace the sports practices with more of my own training.
You’re also a sports prefect at WEGC, what does that role entail?
I am one of the two sports prefects at WEGC and have the job of organising the sports events that go on throughout the school. We promote sport at our school and acknowledge the successes that our girls are up to. We like to think that we are our sports coordinators’ little helpers. Currently Amy O’Neill and I are organising the sports prize giving that is coming up, a night that acknowledges all the sporting achievements that WEGC has had throughout the year.
Speaking of which, Wellington East Girls’ College has some other fine sportspeople at the moment. Is this a reflection of a great culture of the school?
I have always been amazed at the level of athletes that have been at WEGC, especially in my year level. Having talked to students from other schools I have found out that it isn’t as common to find a school that holds as many NZ representatives in one school as we do, having 15 girls this year alone that I can name off the top of my head.
The culture our school has in terms of sport is incredible, I find that because of how many girls that are competing at a top level it pushes everyone to want to succeed in what they are doing, and tall poppy syndrome is definitely not an issue at WEGC. Also the girls are super encouraging of each other and always interested in what they’re doing and how they are getting along in their own sporting codes. Not only this but I think WEGC does very well in appreciating the work that the girls are doing and make sure to find time to acknowledge the girls and their achievements they are making to the whole school at assemblies on a regular basis.
It’s noted that much of this success has been achieved under the backdrop of your school being disrupted these past few years with major earthquake strengthening work going on and outdoor space limited?
Personally for our netball team that just finished third at nationals, the construction was not an issue for our trainings as we train indoors. But having no courts meant a lot of other sports suffered. Our interchangeable netball - tennis court meant tennis was no longer on offer for the school and it also put a strain on training for our 25 netball teams as space was so limited.
Personally, you’ve had great coaching support in your sporting journey thus far?
All the coaches that I have had the privilege of working with have been incredible and so many have put in their own time to help me improve as a player. I have been very thankful for every single one of them as I have gained such an incredible amount of knowledge and skill from everyone. I would have to say that my school and club waterpolo coach Sarah Goff was instrumental in getting me to the level that I got to in my waterpolo seeing the potential in me well before I did and pushing me constantly to be the best player that I could while having to juggle around so many of my other sporting commitments.
Do your plans for next year revolve around your sports?
I have decided to take a gap year before starting my studies to go travelling next year; I am looking at a volunteer programme coaching volleyball in South America to start off with then heading to Europe to experience some international volleyball through playing for some clubs in different countries. When I get back I’m looking at starting my studies either in Health Science or doing a sports internship.