Cargill gets sporty new deputy

South Waikato News - - Your Local News - LUKE KIRKEBY

Sporty teach­ers are usu­ally stu­dent favourites so Tracey Gray’s pas­sion for sport has no doubt helped her fit in at Cargill Open Plan School.

The once suc­cess­ful ju­nior golfer, who con­tin­ues to be a self con­fessed sports ad­dict, has taken on the deputy prin­ci­pal role at the Toko­roa pri­mary school.

Gray, who grew up in Gis­borne, says she couldn’t be more happy with the ca­reer move.

‘‘I live in Te Awa­mutu and had been teach­ing at Pek­erau Pri­mary School for about nine years but it was time for a change and it’s nice step­ping up in your ca­reer,’’ she said.

She said her stu­dents have also quickly dis­cov­ered her love of sport.

‘‘When I was grow­ing up I got flown around all over the place to play in golf tour­na­ments and was lucky I had a whole lot of schol­ar­ships but I didn’t fol­low through with it as a teenager. I still love sport, any sport, though and fol­low it big time,’’ she said.

‘‘One of the things I love about be­ing here is the kids ask me every day if I can go and play touch with them but I haven’t been able to yet as it’s been too cold,’’ she laughed.

With three pri­mary school kids her­self - a 9-year-old and twin 6-year-olds - she is a busy woman.

She said coming to work in Toko­roa from Te Awa­mutu had been a huge change but a move she is glad to have made.

‘‘I’ve come from a school where there were 360 kids to a school where there are 120. I never re­alised how many schools there were here,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a big change but it makes get­ting to know cer­tain chil­dren eas­ier be­cause in a big school you can get quite lost for a while.’’

Gray, who can also speak flu­ent Te Reo Maori, said she was par­tic­u­larly taken by a how fam­ily fo­cused the stu­dents were.

‘‘I brought my hus­band and my kids down a cou­ple of weeks ago just to meet th­ese guys and they were just all over them,’’ she said.

‘‘They re­ally care about you which is awe­some to see.’’

As well as look­ing af­ter her deputy prin­ci­pal du­ties, which in­cludes or­gan­is­ing camps and sports fix­tures, Gray is also teach­ing the school’s se­nior stu­dents.

Prin­ci­pal Rhonda Rayner said she was happy to have her join the team. Natua says fit­ting in train­ing with work is a real chal­lenge, but she has be­come ac­cus­tomed to over the past three years with the Black Ferns.

‘‘My bosses are very un­der­stand­ing and they work around me. Work knows rugby comes first.’’

Natua trav­els an hour and a half to Hamil­ton from Toko­roa about three times a week to train with the Waikato con­tin­gent of about six play­ers. Yes, be­ing a part-time in­ter­na­tional rugby side means they don’t ac­tu­ally train to­gether as a full team un­til a train­ing camp is called. The first train­ing camp be­fore the World Cup was held in June.

‘‘I used to find it dif­fi­cult in the first two years, but I guess you be­come stronger and learn to man­age your time. [Get­ting paid to play] would make things eas­ier on us, some of the girls have been work­ing from here dur­ing the tour­na­ment.’’

The no-fuss prop says cel­e­bra­tions will be min­i­mal as she doesn’t drink much and had noth­ing planned. But she ad­mit­ted it would be nice to see some sort of pa­rade for her side, see­ing as they are now world cham­pi­ons.

‘‘That would be amaz­ing to be hon­est. If it hap­pens it hap­pens, but that would be amaz­ing.’’

The win is not only a win for the Black Ferns, but for women’s rugby in New Zealand as it will help in­spire young girls to take up the game of rugby, she said.

‘‘I do think some­thing great will come from this. The sup­port from New Zealand rugby has been amaz­ing.’’

‘‘One of the things I love about be­ing here is the kids ask me every day if I can go and play touch with them.’’ Tracey Gray

LUKE KIRKEBY/ STUFF

Cargill Open Plan School deputy prin­ci­pal Tracey Gray with some of her stu­dents.

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