School sets base for top club's success

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 05/09/2012

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Waimea College is recognised as one of the country's top volleyball nurseries, with former students emerging all around the national scene. The Pines - Nelson's national club champions - have roots deep within the Waimea school system.

Colin Redpath, coach of the champion ASB NelsonPine men's club team, is also a teacher at Waimea. Redpath said the team had links all over Nelson, with players from Nayland College to Nelson College, but he also acknowledged his school's unique contribution.

Redpath remembers that when he started coaching volleyball on his arrival at the college 16 years ago, he had a young Pat Shone in his team as a year 10 student.

Shone captained the Pines to their national title just over a week ago, while picking up the accolades of tournament MVP and best setter.

Ben Glue, who is leaving the country to play professionally in Sweden, is another ex-Waimea student and New Zealand representative. Jack Redpath, only two years out of Waimea College, shut down enough offence to be named the tournament's best defender. Along with the three ex-students who formed a formidable trio in the team, there are a number among the Pines who have more current involvement with Waimea. Squad member Bailey Pitcher, in year 13 at the college, was hand slapping with current teacher and player Terryn Proracki on court. Along with Proracki and, of course, Redpath, the other staff member involved was Rebecca Malthus, who kept the outfit on course as team manager.

The girls' programme is also very strong. Katie Adamson, who left the college last year, is in the United Sates on a volleyball scholarship. Josh Ovsenek, a Pines player and assistant coach, also coaches in the girls' programme that saw students Hannah Davenhill, Annie Eden, Brittani Harrington and Gracie Roberts make the New Zealand under-17 women's volleyball team recently.

Colin Redpath said that it was not just Waimea, but Nelson in general, that was a hotbed of volleyball talent.

"There are lots of connections to Waimea there, but it [the ASB NelsonPines] is certainly a Nelson team," said Redpath.

"When you look around the clubs that were here, like Dunedin, the majority of their players are ex-Nelson. Shirley, who were the second highest South Island team and sixth overall, five of their team are ex-Waimea College as well. Warren Smith, the coach of the Shirley team who is also the high performance coach for New Zealand Volleyball, is ex-Waimea College.

"It is really cool for me as a coach just to see these players carry on playing. And it's good for them. One of those [Shirley] guys who is two years out of Waimea College has just left to go to a Canadian University to take up a volleyball scholarship."

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Redpath said the key to the college's ongoing success was simple: the people involved, from coaching and managing teams to parents and supporters, were passionate and committed.

"In this day and age when you look around the country, teachers are so busy and there is so much going on it is hard to be involved in sport. At Waimea, just to have so many staff and locals involved is really amazing.

"You also have to look outside at our connections with Waimea Intermediate, who have a strong volleyball programme, and also you look at the work of the local association, who have a lot of good junior volleyball going on at late primary school and intermediate, which doesn't happen in other centres.

"You have to have some clear goals and good support to get teams and players to where you want them. But in the end where the coaching is, the good teams are, really, that's why Nelson does really well.

"Peter Malthus, who coaches our [Waimea College] junior programme, has coached seven junior titles in the last 12 years, I think. So it's that nursery of players coming through.

"The important thing is that they carry on playing, because they get that excitement and interest at school, a large number get lost to the sport after school but a decent proportion go on with it."

And with the likes of Shone and Glue, you know Redpath helped sow the seeds of enjoyment of the sport and a drive to succeed, that turned these Waimea Old Boys into champion Pines.

- The Nelson Mail

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