Netballers foot it with the nation’s best
‘‘We've worked really hard this year. Finishing sixth last year really hurt.’’
Sacred Heart College has qualified for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Netball Championships after missing out on playing in the top flight for the last two years.
The Senior A team qualified for the championships in Rotorua by finishing fifth overall at the recent Lower North Island Secondary Schools tournament.
They are the only team from the Hutt Valley to qualify for the nationals which hosts the top 16 teams from around New Zealand. St Mary’s and Queen Margaret College, were the only other schools from the Wellington region to qualify.
Coach Amy Atkinson said the team’s qualification was ‘‘outstanding’’ and her players were excited to have made the nationals, having finished just outside of the qualifying places for the last two years.
‘‘We’ve worked really hard this year. Finishing sixth last year really hurt.’’
The team had been buoyed by the presence and support of their family members, and representatives from Hutt Valley Netball and Hutt Valley Secondary Schools Netball throughout the tournament.
Sacred Heart last made it to the nationals six years ago.
Atkinson put the team’s performances this year down to experience, with many of her players having progressed through the grades together.
She also thought her players’ interests in different sports brought a different mindset and skills to their netball game. Many of the players had varied sporting backgrounds, with competitive softball, waterpolo, indoor netball and volleyball players represented in the team.
‘‘I think most importantly, they are a good group of girls that get on really well.’’
Winning all but one of their nine matches at the Lower North Island tournament, qualification for the nationals caps off a brilliant year for the Sacred Heart team.
The Senior A netballers also won the Hutt Valley Premier Secondary Schools competition, the Mission Cup - the Catholic schools tournament and were finalists in the Premier 1 Wellington Secondary Schools competition.
Atkinson said the team had achieved all their goals this year and her team deserved to be playing in the top 16.
The chance to compete in the nationals was also a special achievement for Atkinson who will leave Sacred Heart at the end of this year after coaching the team for four seasons.
The New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships will be held in Rotorua between October 10 and 13.
Sacred Heart Senior A Netball team has made it back to the national secondary schools netball championships. Amy Atkinson