Net­ballers foot it with the na­tion’s best

Upper Hutt Leader - - CLASSIFIED - MATTHEWTSO

‘‘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

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