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, rhythmic gymnastics, 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 Anton aand Monique Bouwer, both excellent coaches who have 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 11 years and currently hold a number of records at this event.
Basketball is the fastest growing sport at St Mary’s.
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. The St Mary’s 1st team also competes annually in the Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School basketball tournament and the American International School of Johannesburg tournament. Teams from across South Africa and the neighboring countries compete in these tournaments.
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.
Equestrian 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 South African National Equestrian Schools Association (SANESA) league allows riders to compete in many disciplines. The main disciplines include dressage, show jumping, working riding, working hunter, performance riding, equitation and eventing. Western mounted games, stadium eventing and mounted archery are disciplines that have been recently introduced.
St Mary’s currently has 10 Senior School girls participating in the SANESA league, with most riding in a number of disciplines.
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. 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.
St Mary’s competes in the Johannesburg region of the Gauteng SANESA league. The Johannesburg league comprises four qualifying shows in each calendar year and the girls are encouraged to compete in all four of the qualifiers. Riders are awarded individual and school points based on where they are placed in each individual show. Based on their performance points in the four qualifiers, riders qualify to represent the Gauteng region at SANESA Gauteng Finals. After successful participation at Gauteng finals, teams are chosen to represent Gauteng at the SANESA National Championships where riders compete against teams from other provinces.
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 womens 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-eighteen saw us hosting the 19th annual St Mary’s Investec Hockey Festival with 32 teams, from across Southern Africa and one for the United Kingdom, 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 nine, who take care of the 14 St Mary’s teams.
Netball is a popular sport in the Senior School, with age groups ranging from U14 to U19. We currently field 15 netball teams. Netball is a winter sport that begins towards the end of the first term and continues into the second term. The season is short, but intense.
The Form I (U14) girls participate in the U14 Roedean Autumn Festival, which generally takes place in March. This event is a great opportunity for the Form I netball girls to be exposed to senior school netball and coaching. The first team starts the season by participating in the St Andrew’s Netball Festival, which generally takes place at the end of the first term. Teams from across the country participate in both festivals.
When possible, senior girls (U16-U19) attend a camp/tour during the last week of the April holidays in preparation for the league. The camp/tour generally consists of specialised positional training and matches against other schools.
To give our girls the opportunity to play as much netball as possible, our teams are registered to play in two divisions in the D13 netball league. Our A and B teams are in the A-pool and the C and D teams are in the D1-pool.
The netball coaches, captains and players always work hard to produce top-class netball players.
Rhythmic gymnastics is an amalgam of gym, music, dance and the use of hand apparatus. It is the perfect combination of creativity, fitness and eye-hand co-ordination. Girls who are involved in this activity develop an appreciation for music and movement and benefit from the healthy effects of aerobic exercise. We use ribbons, ropes, balls, hoops and clubs as part of the routines and many St Mary’s girls have achieved provincial recognition. We combine our sessions with girls from Waverley Girls’ High School and these girls add a wonderfully vibrant dimension to rhythmic gymnastics.
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 20 of the 26 occasions we have competed. St Mary’s has won the prestigious Schools’ Boat Race 11 times in this event’s 17-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, Germany and Brazil. 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.
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 into the league by any one school and has won the prestigious Castle Aggregate Trophy for the past consecutive six years. Such is the current strength and depth of squash that this year we even entered two teams in the prestigious U19A, U16A, 15A 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 in the inter-high Premier gala. The B team won the inter-high A Gala trophy in 2016, 2017, placed second in 2018, and won the gala again in 2019.
At the beginning of each year, St Mary’s hosts the Summer Splash festival, 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 U10 to U19.
Each year we compete at the National Aquatics Festival. This is a high-powered gala involving 10 schools from around the country.
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 2018 season has been an extremely successful one for St Mary’s tennis. The St Mary’s A team participated in both the Hilton/St Anne’s and Eunice tennis festival, emerging unbeaten in the Eunice festival. The junior inter-high team (Form I and IIs) won a nail biting final to clinch the junior inter-high title. Twenty-two schools competed in this event.
St Mary’s also emerged victorious in the A inter-high, which is a team event consisting of the top four players. The A inter-high team beat St Stithians in the final to clinch the title. 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 five provincial representatives. Three St Mary’s players were also selected to represent the South African schools' team to tour England in June; Sarah Millard (U15), and Tamsin Hart and Amukelani Mokone (both U19).Tamsin Hart won the prestigious South African U18 masters title in a convincing manner beating all her opponents in straight sets.
St Mary’s head of tennis, René Plant, has been named the country’s new Fed Cup captain by Tennis South Africa. René will oversee the national women’s team for the next three years, up to and including the end of the 2020 Fed Cup campaign.
Since its introduction to the St Mary’s School sporting codes in 2006, water polo has grown and become bigger than it has ever been in the school’s history. With over 80 girls playing water polo in both the Junior and Senior Schools combined, water polo has gained much momentum and many successes.
St Mary’s senior water polo competes in the top tournaments around the country including the Roedean School Old Mutual Prestige Cup, the St Stithians Invitational Tournament, the Reddam House Constantia Girls’s U19 Water Polo Tournament, National Aquatics Festival, Summer Splash, Reef Cup Water Polo Tournament and the St Peters Old Petrians Water Polo Tournament.
St Mary’s junior water polo competes in the U14 Roedean School tournament, U15 Shaun Fuchs Cup and the U15 Collegiate tournament.
Roedean School (SA) and Old Mutual initiated a first 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 first team have had great success over the past four years and have donated their winning funds to a development swimming programme at HA Jack Primary School.
St Mary’s is one of the few schools that can field teams in all of the water polo age groups, namely U12, U13, U14, U15, 2nd and 1st team levels.
Twenty-eighteen proved to be a successful year for the water polo players with the first team climbing 10 places at the St Stithians Invitational Tournament, winning the bronze medal. Over 20 St Mary’s water polo players made their various age group provincial teams and will compete in the annual inter-provincial water polo tournament to be hosted in East London in the December holidays.
There is a real passion and respect for the sport at the school and it is well supported by many.
South African representatives 2018
Provincial representatives 2018
|Mia van Heerden|