What began as a few boys playing volleyball during their lunchbreaks has transpired into a movement that has taken over St. John’s College.
It is the first time in almost ten years that the school has had a volleyball team. But “team dad” Tim Hutchins says it would not be anything without the dedication and passion of the students.
Last term saw the school enter a junior and senior team in the Secondary Schools Volleyball Competition, organised by Volleyball Hawke’s Bay. While neither team won the season, they were able to secure a few wins under their belt, and the senior team managed to place fourth in Division 2.
“They played against really well-seasoned teams and schools that have got proper trainers, but the boys still put up a good fight. In saying, that we haven’t had a lot of wins, but we haven’t had a lot of hidings either,” Mr Hutchins said.
Their first training saw more than 20 students turn up, and the interest levels have remained throughout. Mr Hutchins, along with SJC Volleyball manager Shelley Oliver and coach Peleti Oli, also a Hastings District Councillor believe any student who wants to play and is committed should be able to.
“The passion behind this is from the boys and it’s really exciting to get that but it’s not only their passion, it’s their drive to do it and they’re actually quite skilled in what they do.”
Due to the boy’s passion, they have done everything to ensure the boys have all the support they need to succeed. They have also managed to acquire the talent of Anamia Paul, who has again made the
New Zealand Māori Women’s U19 squad, as well as Hawke’s Bay’s U19 IPC Women’s A squad.
“It’s hard to walk away from it when they are so passionate about it and they’re always here,” Mr Hutchins says.
His son, Elyjah Hutchins, who is in year 10, says playing for the school’s junior team is everything he imagined and more.
“I love the teamwork within the team and the fact that we are all playing together,” he said. As a winger in the school’s First XV Rugby team, Elyjah first got into Volleyball after watching games online, before beginning to play by himself.
Year 12 student Rhys Maxwell wanted to start playing after seeing others play at Splash Planet.
“We got into it and thought of making a team at school. A few of us started playing around at like lunchtime and playing small games and the teachers recognised that maybe we should have a school team.”
Having played volleyball right through school at a competitive level, Mr Oli says he is privileged to be able to help the boys grow in the sport.
“My passion is seeing them grow within the skills that we teach them and being involved in the moulding of the man that they will become.
“Because working with youth is my passion and seeing them find enjoyment in something I enjoy as well is a real payment for me.”
Mr Oli says a lot of the Polynesian boys have joined in. “It’s part of our upbringing and our culture back in Samoa and the Pacific Islands so it’s massive.
The junior team will have another opportunity to play in Term 4. But they all believe their teams can win their respective divisions in the regional competition, and eventually nationals.
Principal Rob Ferreira said the resumption of volleyball at the College has been great to see.
“Mr Tim Hutchins and Mr Peleti Oli have been keen and enthusiastic coaches. They have inspired our students to increase their skills. I would like to thank them for their dedication and commitment.”
“Mrs Shelley Oliver has also played a significant role in managing the sport and her commitment is greatly appreciated.”