More bounce to the ounce
Like most things in life, you will almost always not succeed in sport unless you have a real passion for it. Clay Wilson sat down with a Marlborough teenager who lives for sport and is reaping the benefits.
Eat, sleep, school and sport. Welcome to the life of Jake Southey.
Outside of those first three things, which he obviously must do, sport is everything for 14-year-old Jake. Not only does he love sport, the laid-back year 10 Marlborough Boys' College student has made a success out of his major codes, basketball and athletics.
As this piece goes to print, Jake is part of the Tasman boys' team competing at the national under-15 basketball tournament in Wellington.
Not only is he the only Marlborough member of the team, he and Tasman under-15 girls' squad member Rosanna Buchanan-Brown are the first Marlborough players to attend a national tournament in several years.
Jake said a new format for selection opened up an opportunity and, despite having to travel to Nelson every Sunday for six weeks leading into nationals, he had thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"This year they decided to pick the best players from all the teams, rather than just one team.
"Our [Marlborough] team lost every game at tournament, but they saw I had potential and invited me to join the Tasman squad. From there I made it into the team [for nationals].
"The moves are much more complex, so it's taken time to get used to [but] I've had a lot of fun and it's already helped me become a better basketballer . . . I'm expecting them to be big and rougher [at nationals] than down here in Marlborough. It will be a challenge."
Born and bred in Marlborough, Jake, his parents Paul and Stephanie and equally sporty younger brothers James (13) and Finn (11) have lived in Rarangi for the past six years. Jake's natural talent for sport was clear from an early age and, after starting at St Mary's School, he first excelled at athletics.
Over the past eight years, he has been one of Marlborough's standout young athletes, attending numerous interprovincial events, Colgate Games and representing Tasman on several occasions. A high-jump specialist because he has "the height and a lot of bounce", Jake also won two golds at the South Island Junior Champs in 2010, was the Marlborough male athlete of the year in 2011 and the MBC under-14 champion in March this year, breaking the under-14 high jump record in the process.
Basketball was introduced to Jake's life in year three at St Mary's and, like athletics, he took to it quickly. He made the Marlborough primary schools team in 2010 and the under-13 rep side in 2011, before stepping up to under-15 level and earning Tasman selection this year. Always tall for his age, Jake said he likes all aspects of basketball and his Tasman selection has meant it has now overtaken athletics as most important.
"It's good fitness and good fun and it's good to not always be in a big team. I like scoring and shooting, although I'm not the best shooter.
"My strengths are under the basket, getting rebounds and when I'm down there putting up lay-ups.
"Basketball is No 1, but I used to prefer athletics. Now that I'm going to [basketball] nationals, I see that I have potential and my coach tells me he sees potential in me so he wants me to carry on."
With his basketball being played during the week, Jake also plays football on Saturday mornings and has done for three seasons now.
Prior to that, he was a standout rugby player for Moutere and made the Marlborough under-52kg team in 2011 before a bad shoulder injury forced him to switch codes.
On top of that, he plays volleyball in summer and last November was part of the MBC side which took out the South Island secondary schools junior champs on home turf.
Along with natural talent and dedication, growing up in a sporty household, where brothers James and Finn are also promising athletes and basketballers, has contributed to Jake's success. The support and commitment of his parents has also played a big part and two seasons ago mum Stephanie became president of Marlborough Athletics.
A six, and sometimes seven-days-a-week, sporting schedule means there is little time for much else in Jake's life. When he does get the chance to relax, though, he enjoys mucking around on his laptop and watching the odd movie.
But with a lofty goal to make the national under-17 basketball team next year in his sights, there is no time to rest. Fortunately for this sports-mad teenager, he wouldn't have it any other way.
WEEKLY SPORTS STAR
Name: Jakeb William Xavier Southey (Jake).
Nickname: Marlburian, Ginger Ninja, Big Red.
Born: Blenheim, February 4, 1999.
Educated: St Mary's School, Marlborough Boys' College.
Earliest sporting hero: Dan Carter.
Latest sporting hero: Usain Bolt.
Must-watch TV programme: None, I don't care about TV.
Must-have food: Lamb chops.
What's hot on your iPod: Nothing, I'm not a great fan of music.
Favourite holiday spot: Quinney's Bush. I also enjoy paintball, ten-pin bowling and swimming in my spare time.
Superstitions: I always wear two pair of socks.
Pet hates: People that go on and on about themselves and never ask "what about you?" or "how have you been?" etc.
Fashion crime: Sneakers and Jeans, Socks and Sandals, Sandals and Jeans.
Favourite sporting moment: Winning at SISS volleyball tournament, breaking hurdles and high jump records at athletics, getting into the Tasman basketball team.
Worst sporting moment: Pulling both my calves in a 200m race at the Colgate Games. Luckily it was my last event and I already had three medals.
In five years I'll be: Five years older (19). I hope to be still going strong with my basketball and high jump.
The Marlborough Express