Teen gets second callup to play for NZ

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 09/11/2012

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A lengthy and remarkable sporting year stretches on for Gracie Roberts.

The 16-year-old dual international is getting into her exams at Waimea College, but after finishing, she is headed back across the Tasman for another international tournament.

Roberts will play for the New Zealand girls under-17 basketball team and leaves for Australia on November 24, the day after her final exam, to travel to Churchill in Victoria for the FIBA Oceania Pacific Youth Tournament.

"It is pretty exciting [to represent New Zealand], especially for basketball because it has been my dream and my goal since I was little," Roberts said.

It will be the second time Roberts has travelled across the ditch to fly the New Zealand flag this year.

In July, she represented New Zealand under-17 at volleyball, alongside four other Nelsonians, beating Australia 2-1 in a three-test series to claim the Jenny Kirk Trophy for the first time in 15 years of competition.

Roberts hopes she can repeat the feat in her preferred sport, basketball. At the FIBA Oceania tournament, New Zealand will meet Australia, Guam, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Samoa and New Caledonia.

Roberts' achievements are typical of Nelson's youth sporting elite, but that, in no way, makes them ordinary. Several top college athletes in Nelson excel across different sports and wear the silver fern on various strips as a result.

She said sport was a way of life for herself and many of her friends.

"A big thing for me getting through all this sport, is due to my friends and family support.

"A lot of my friends play the same sports as me and heaps of my team-mates have represented New Zealand. All my Waimea teams are filled with my friends.

"It makes sport fun, you get along better and have the connection on the court."

The capable young athlete could soon add a third feather to her international cap.

Roberts has been invited to a camp in December from which triallists for the New Zealand secondary schools netball team will be chosen. Comfortable at both goal attack and goal defence, Roberts was an integral member of the South Island champion Waimea College Senior A netball team.

At the Waimea College sports awards, the senior A team won sports team of the year. Roberts took home the Connie Dick Cup for dedication to basketball and the K Thelin Cup for best all-round performer in netball and received a ceremonial cap in recognition of her status as a New Zealand representative.

It is not just pure talent that sees Roberts succeed.

When given her basketball award, the accompanying narrative noted a quiet dedication.

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"She is a determined and driven individual who is motivated to succeed. Gracie is often spotted at the gym doing extra shooting practice and she always works hard in practices and games to improve in all areas of basketball."

- Nelson

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