Tradition is one of the defining characteristics of St Mary’s School and it is upheld strongly in our sporting achievements. More than 85% of the Senior School girls represent their school in athletics, swimming, diving, water polo, rowing, hockey, tennis, squash, netball, equestrian and basketball teams. They enjoy notable successes in these sports, and many girls are selected annually to both provincial and national sports teams. Girls who do not play for a team still enjoy the experience of team sports and the thrill of the games.
The opportunity to play sport is seen as a vital part of the growth of all individuals. Sport and the experience of playing in a team are microcosms of society. Our coaches strive to teach our girls life lessons through the medium of sport. We pride ourselves on knowing every girl by name and we get to know them in a relaxed environment.
The St Mary’s sports coaches are passionate about their sport and have proven themselves in their field of expertise. As with anything, our success will not be measured by getting to the top but rather in our ability to remain there!
Our athletes are treated professionally and follow training programmes pertaining to their various disciplines. Athletes are introduced to stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises. They attend fitness, agility and specialisation sessions, where they obtain coaching from Roger Haitengi. Roger is a national triple-jumper, and an excellent coach who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in all areas of athletics.
St Mary’s athletics has improved dramatically. We have won the inter-high athletics for the past nine years and currently hold a number of records at this event.
Basketball is a growing sport at St Mary’s. We do not have a court on our campus but have converted a tennis court at Waverley Girls’ High School into our “home ground”.
Basketball began as a games session in 2004. The talent and commitment shown to this sport led to our decision to join the Rainbow League. About 10 schools compete in the league which takes place in the first and third terms.
We’re very proud of our wonderful diving facilities. We have a half-metre board for training purposes and learning new dives, as well as two 1m springboards, two 3m springboards and a 5m platform. There are bubbles under each board to help the divers learn new dives and boost confidence. This, coupled with the fact that we have excellent dry-land facilities consisting of two trampolines (one with an overhead spotting rig), a dry-board and the use of a well-equipped gym, often results in better performances and an increase in the number of accomplished divers at St Mary’s.
Teaching and coaching is provided for all interested children, from Grade 1 to matric. There is a diving club that operates from St Mary’s for anyone who would like to develop her diving skills beyond the school forum.
Riding has been a formal school sport at St Mary’s since the inception of the Equestrian Schools’ League in 2003. Competitive riding has expanded over the past years and the Schools’ League allows riders to compete in many disciplines. The main disciplines include dressage, show jumping, working riding, working hunter, performance riding, equitation and eventing.
Each rider needs to have access to a horse or pony for the season, irrespective of whether the horse is owned, baited or on loan.
St Mary’s currently has 16 girls participating, with most riding in a number of disciplines. The league caters for riders of all levels, provided that they have access to a horse that is able to participate at the level offered.
The league comprises four qualifying shows in each calendar year and the girls are required to compete in all four of the qualifiers. St Mary’s competes in the Gauteng Central Region and girls are awarded points based on where they are placed in each individual show. Based on their performance points, riders qualify to represent the Gauteng Central Region at the Gauteng Finals.
St Mary’s competes in the category of schools aligned to the number of riders participating, and points from all the girls’ classes are added to determine the winning school for the season.
Girls are also encouraged to ride in competitions outside of the Schools’ League, and are acknowledged for achievements in these endeavours.
It seems that hockey and St Mary’s are synonymous. Ros Howell, our deputy headmistress, is a past national player and captain and was coach of the South African team that played in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. We are also proud of the six St Mary’s Old Girls who have represented South Africa. Special mention must be made of Shelley Russell and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, who played at the 2012 Olympics.
Twenty-sixteen saw us hosting the 17th annual St Mary’s Investec Hockey Festival with 36 teams, from across Southern Africa, competing in four days of fast-paced hockey.
To give our girls the opportunity to play as much hockey as possible, our teams play in two different leagues. Our A and B teams play in the Grays League and our C and D teams play in the Malik League. We have a coaching staff of eight, who take care of the 14 St Mary’s teams.
Netball has become increasingly popular in the Senior School and age groups range from U14 to the 1st team. We currently field 13 netball teams.
The 1st team began the 2016 season at the St Andrew’s Netball Festival, where they placed 9th out of 32 schools. They continued to play really well throughout the season and came joint first in the league with Leeuwenhof, but placed second overall as Leeuwenhof scored more goals.
The St Mary’s U15 A team came 1st in the district play-offs and the U16 A team 4th. Both teams played excellent netball throughout the season and thoroughly deserved to be in the play-offs.
The netball coaches, captains and players are working hard to produce top-class netball players.
Rowing is a summer sport that begins in the third term and continues into the following year, ending in early March when the South African Schools’ Rowing Championships take place. The season is short, but intense! The sport encourages personal growth and teaches time management, teamwork, dedication and leadership.
The girls generally attend two camps, one in the last week of the August/September school holiday and the other in January, just before school resumes. Training sessions take the form of water-based training at the Victoria Lake Club in Germiston, and land-based training in the ergo room at school.
We are extremely proud of our many successes since our inception as a rowing club in 1993. The premier schools’ event in the rowing calendar, the South African Schools’ Rowing Championships, has been won by St Mary’s on 17 of the 23 occasions we have competed. St Mary’s has won the prestigious Schools’ Boat Race nine times in this event’s 15-year history. Over the years, our girls have been selected to travel overseas as members of junior national squads, representing South Africa in countries such as Egypt, France, England, Belgium, China, Lithuania, Holland and Germany.
Squash continues to be a very popular sport at St Mary's, as seen by the vast number of girls who participate in social squash.
St Mary's holds the record for the most number of teams entered by any one school. Such is the current strength and depth of squash that this year we even entered two teams in the prestigious U19A league, U16A and U14A leagues in order to provide more of our players with strong opposition.
Many of the girls participate in outside tournaments which help to improve their standard of play and assist them in their quest for provincial representation. The thud of squash balls hitting the court walls and the laughter of the girls reflect the fun and hard work that go into this sport.
The aquatics centre is a hive of activity in the summer terms and our Olympic-size pool has made it possible for many girls to participate in various aquatics activities simultaneously. For the most part, the bulkhead is positioned halfway across the pool and we work with two 25m pools. The exception to this is a Saturday morning during the first term when we move the bulkhead to 50m and the Junior and Senior school teams have a session over the Olympic distance.
The pool is heated in order to derive maximum usage from this superb facility.
In the Senior School we have A and B swimming teams. For the past three years, the A team has placed second (2014), third (2015) and second (2016) in the inter-high Premier Gala in the swimming section. The B team won the inter-high A Gala trophy in 2016, 2015 and placed second in 2014. In 2013, 2014, 2015 and again in 2016 St Mary’s won the diving section.
At the beginning of each year, St Mary’s hosts Summer Splash, a fun, happy event that ushers in the aquatics season for the year. This is a gala held for eight local schools that have junior and senior teams, which swim as combined teams from U9 to U19.
Each year we compete at the National Aquatics Festival. This is a high-powered gala involving 10 schools from around the country. This year we placed third at the swimming event, and were the proud winners of the diving and water polo for the 5th consecutive year.
Tennis is a vibrant and popular sport at St Mary’s. There are 75 players on the senior ladder. Coach René Plant believes that tennis is a game for life, and tennis at St Mary’s should encompass both competitive and social aspects. St Mary’s has eight tennis courts.
St Mary’s participates in two tennis leagues, one in the first term and the other in the third term. Eight teams are entered into each league, which gives about 48 players the chance to participate in a match every week. Social tennis is also offered as a games session throughout the year.
The past 2016 season has been an extremely successful one for St Mary’s tennis. The St Mary’s A team at the Hilton/St Anne’s tournament won Mixed Doubles event. This is a highlight on our tennis calendar, and the St Mary’s team is paired with the boys’ team from St Stithians for the mixed event. St Mary’s also participated in the Eunice Festival in October and won this event.
St Mary’s also emerged victorious in the junior inter-high, held in October. The A junior inter-high team beat Helpmekaar Kollege in the final to clinch the title. Earlier in the year, the St Mary’s A team won the A inter-high, beating St Stithians in the final. In addition to this, the St Mary’s B team won the B inter-high tournament. This is a tournament for players ranked from 5-8 on their school’s ladder.
St Mary’s has six provincial representatives. Imaan Hassim, Maja Gledic and Cara O’Flaherty, the top three players at St Mary’s, are all nationally ranked in the top 10 in their age groups in South Africa. Both Imaan and Maja have also been selected for the South African U19 and U15 South African School’s team, respectively.
Water polo was introduced to St Mary’s School in 2006 and we competed for the first time the following year.
By the end of 2011, water polo had become extremely popular and 21 St Mary’s girls were selected to represent Central Gauteng in the National Provincial Schools’ Tournament in Cape Town. The St Mary’s 1st team has been ranked in the top five girls’ water polo teams in South Africa for the past four seasons.
St Mary’s is one of the few schools that can field teams in all of the water polo age groups, namely U13, U14, U15, 2nd and 1st team levels. St Mary’s currently has two or more representatives in each Central Gauteng water polo age group.
Our 1st team has enjoyed great success in the pool, having won the National Aquatics Festival for four consecutive years and the Reef Cup for five years in a row.
Roedean School (SA) and Old Mutual have initiated a 1st team tournament comprising the top 10 girls’ water polo schools in Gauteng. This initiative involves disadvantaged communities and aims to create water-safe learners. Each school that participates in the tournament pairs with a disadvantaged school and implements Learn to Swim programmes. The St Mary’s 1st team were the 2014 and 2015 winners of this tournament and donated their winning funds to a development swimming programme at Waverley Girls’ High School.
Water polo offers tournaments and competition at all levels. The U14 players compete in the Roedean School (SA) U14 tournament and the U15s compete in the Crawford College, Lonehill, Shaun Fuchs Cup. Schools nationwide compete in both tournaments.
Training, dedication and passion have contributed to St Mary’s water polo success.
South African representatives 2016
|Megan de Lange|
|Alex Savenye Terblanche|
|Water polo||Lace Hallendorff|
Provincial representatives 2016
|Megan de Lange|
|Carly du Toit|
|Rhythmic Gymnastics||Caitlin Miller|
|Alex Savenye Terblanche|
|Swimming||Carly du Toit|
|Water polo||Catherine Hock|
|Nicole Watt Pringle|