Punching Above our Weight

As we launch into the final phase of our capital campaign supporting the redevelopment of the Sports Hall in the Dorothy Pizzey Centre, our campaign theme: She Is Strong could not be a more fitting tribute and reflection of the sporting pursuits of our student athletes over the past weeks. 

Most recently, our St Catherine’s rowers have cherished the opportunity to compete in one of the single largest sporting events for girls in the southern hemisphere – the Head of Schoolgirls’ Regatta (HOSG). Our rowers, alongside 2,300 girls, attended the annual HOSG Regatta on the Barwon River in Geelong last weekend. The Regatta was the culmination of many months of training, with the HOSG Regatta the pinnacle event of the season.  

I congratulate all our rowers across the Years 9 to 12 crews. I was proud of the maturity, sports(wo)manship and calm composure in which they approached the Regatta. The blue-ribbon event of the HOSG Regatta featured Years 11 and 12 rowers competing in the Senior Eight Divisions. 

In Division 1, our Crew competing in the Henley MAXXII, won a convincing heat and semi-final and were defeated for third place in the A Final. In Division 2, our Crew competing in MAXXI had a similar show of strength in their semi-final and were also narrowly defeated for third place in the A Final. Two fine achievements for these crews who now travel to Perth for the National Championships next week.  

For a relatively small school population, St Catherine’s is always described as ‘punching above its weight.’

Our Senior School divers and swimmers have also competed this week, placing second in Division 2, of the 24 schools competing in GSV. With the final weeks of the Softball and Tennis season still to play, we have several Tennis teams, and all our Softball teams currently undefeated. The rising excitement of the Years 7 and 8 Softball Team was unmistakable as they hopped off the bus after morning training on Wednesday of this week. The smiles on their faces relayed the happiness and confidence the girls gain from choosing to participate, choosing to be engaged and choosing to enjoy the early start for an activity they love. 

Barbreck District Swimming Team

Our Barbreck girls also love to participate in sport. Our District swimmers recently competed in the Beachside Division Swimming Carnival. Our expert swimmers settled for nothing lower than second place, with two of our athletes heading to Regionals after placing first in their finals. In early February our Barbreck Swimming Team also competed in the Armadale District Swimming Carnival. St Catherine’s finished in second place, just 13 points behind Firbank Grammar School. St Catherine’s also took home the Population Trophy for the fifth consecutive year. Congratulations to all the girls who competed. 

The enthusiasm of our Barbreck Joggers each week is so visible as they share a run together and take the all-important first steps in their journey of understanding what it ‘feels’ like to train. Interestingly, over half the boat in our now famous St Catherine’s Henley Rowing Crew, started their foray into sport training with our Barbreck Sports Coordinator, Mr Tom Crebbin leading them in Junior Joggers.  

Recreating a ‘culture of participation’ was defined as a key focus for our School in a post-COVID period. Over almost a decade at St Catherine’s, I feel fortunate to witness time and again, girls participating in sporting pursuits that act as a fuel for learning in other areas of their life. Most notably, improving self-confidence, leadership, and organisational skills. Importantly, sport develops students’ talents, self-discipline and provides opportunities to pursue lifelong interests. Such activities have tremendous educational importance for the positive wellbeing and all-round development of every child.  

Parents often share with me the joy of being relegated as the driver to sports training and events. Listening to their daughters and her friends chatting through the highs and lows of their sports participation – even if pre-dawn or challenged by the afternoon traffic, these moments in time for parents provide a wonderful insight into the minds of their teens. 

The influence of our sports coaches is also significant for each student. At St Catherine’s we ensure they are correctly inducted as staff members, but also that they understand the value of participation over winning, along with cherishing the importance of our School culture, nurturing and empowering our girls at every opportunity. 

Michelle Carroll


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