Having first heard about the ASC’s in the early 2000’s, Rotorua will return to the School Champs where they will compete in the Under-17 Girls competition.
“My husband and I brought senior teams over from John Paul College Rotorua for the tournaments in Canberra and Ballarat after hearing about it from another school which had participated earlier,” said Sue Pene, Development Co-ordinator at Rotorua Basketball Association.
While having a strong connection to the school, Pene also has a family connection to the School Champs.
“Our two eldest daughters played in the early 2000’s and this year, our youngest daughter will be playing for Rotorua Girls’ High School.”
The team will continue training each week and competing in the local winter league of Rotorua where the players are split between three teams in the lead-up to the ASC’s.
A selection of 12 players will compete in the Junior Secondary Schools Premierships in Auckland soon while using a New Zealand competition called the Spring League which runs through October and November as further preparation.
They are looking at taking advantage of several benefits from the School Champs both on and off the court.
“The philosophy is to expose our young women to high level basketball as part of their development in the sport and especially outside of New Zealand,” said Pene.
“This will be very beneficial as part of our school’s development program which started in 2016.”
Having increased registrations at the School Champs by 32 teams in 2016, records are expected to tumble again in 2017 after last year saw 154 teams compete across 17 divisions with around 2,000 athletes participating.
However, Rotorua Girls’ High will not be intimidated by those numbers, having played in several large tournaments themselves- although doing so internationally is a new challenge.
“In terms of school tournaments, our biggest would be the National Secondary Schools which has 70 teams competing,” said Pene.
“For this tournament, schools attend a qualifying competition in their zone and over four zones, 194 school teams competed.
“The girls are thrilled that we can offer them this experience to travel to Australia but also a little apprehensive of the unknown with at least one member of the team having never been overseas before.
“Hopefully, this experience will be an incentive for others to come on board in future years.”
While Rotorua Girls’ High School are coming to win, they are aiming to return home to New Zealand at the end of the year with more than just results.
“Our goal for the tournament is to be competitive in all our games but also to get a feel of the competition against Australian schools for future tournaments.”
The ASC’s are open to all Australian high schools and Basketball Australia, alongside Basketball Victoria and Knox Basketball Stadium, will host the event in 2017 and 2018.
Registration forms can be found here with early bird registrations ending on August 31.