Sports Emphasis Adds to General Wellbeing

Melbourne has a reputation for being Australia’s sporting capital, a title befitting for a city that hosts world-class sporting events, such as the Australian Open and the spring racing carnival, with facilities, coaches and clubs to match.

It is for this reason that regional families in NSW and Victoria sometimes choose to send their children to Melbourne’s inner city boarding schools.

St Catherine’s is one such school that provides students with the opportunity to pursue a range of sports interests that may not otherwise be available in their regional towns.

“A boarder from Horsham came to St Catherine’s to pursue her professional cricketing career, one that has seen her partake in Cricket Without Borders in Vanuatu,” says Mrs Sue Collister, Director of Boarding Services at St Catherine’s. “Another girl is currently trialling for the state netball team.

“Because of our location—10 minutes from the city via train, with access to trams—our students can pursue a wider range of sports interests, on both a professional and recreational level.”

One such student is Jemima Wilcox, a Year 8 student who started at St Catherine’s last year.

“My family lives in the small country town of Woodend, Victoria,” says Jemima.

“I was travelling to Melbourne multiple times a week for basketball training and games and found the driving was too much for my parents and me having to do homework in the car.

“I love school and want to do well academically, so we looked for a school with good results, good sporting opportunities and a welcoming environment,” she says.

After an interview with Principal Mrs Michelle Carroll, a tour of the school and the boarding house (which are located on the same campus), Jemima and her family decided St Catherine’s was the perfect fit.

“Not only does St Catherine’s offer a range of co-curricular programs, thanks to our involvement with Girls Sports Victoria (GSV), but we fully accommodate and support a student’s own personal interests,” says Mrs Collister.

“Our students partake in the likes of badminton, equestrian, dance, snow sports, hockey, swimming and rowing in external programs with a large number of our students representing local districts,” she says.

Jemima has thrown herself into sport at St Catherine’s. “I am involved in water polo, boot camp and the GSV weekly sport, which changes each term.”

St Catherine’s emphasis on sport is just one component of their focus on student wellbeing, says Mrs Collister.

“Whether it is through academics, sport or the student’s development as an individual in the wider community – their wellbeing is central to our school philosophy.

“Boarding at St Catherine’s is all about developing independence, tolerance, resilience and the confidence to try different things, all the while learning basic life skills.”

Jemima can see herself taking up new sporting challenges at St Catherine’s, thanks to the encouragement of fellow boarders and the school’s broader community.

“I am really looking forward to being a part of the rowing program. The older girls at the boarding house say it is the best thing they have ever done,” she says.

“I now have friends from across Australia and the world thanks to the boarding house at St Catherine’s, no matter what age or background, everyone is friendly, encouraging and there to help.”

By Portia Conyers-East
Boarding Schools Guide, Sunday Age
2 June 2019

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