College sport: School polishing future stars

Sport at Te Puke High School is undergoing a fresh initiative driven by director of sports Melissa Preece.

"I arrived here a year and a half ago to a bit of a mess but it has been a lot easier this year," she said.

"The most important part of my job is to get kids participating in sport but we want to go that step further where we are creating that talent. We now have a talent identity programme to find the kids that are really talented so we can encourage them to go further.

"We are seeking them out to see exactly what their needs are, whether it be more training or individual fitness training programmes. Sport is such a career opportunity now for kids so we are trying to get them to do what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

"We have to lift our game to make sure we hang on to our best kids and encourage the others to get into sport. So far so good but we still have a way to go."

There is no shortage of talent coming through the system at Te Puke High but the key is to keep the talent at the school, rather than losing it to schools like Tauranga Boys' College as has happened in the past.

Recently crowned Junior Sportswoman of the Year Sapphire Tapsell and Junior Sportsman of the Year Mikaere Teki are two outstanding multi-talented stars who are an inspiration to their peers.

Sapphire was the Most Valuable Player on the Junior Girls A volleyball team and also played in the Senior Girls A Team that competed at the nationals in Palmerston North. The 14-year-old is a natural at netball and made the school's Senior A netball team, is also the junior girls swimming champion, was in the senior mixed touch team, and was selected for the BOP Under-14 water polo team.

Mikaere loves sport, and cricket in particular. The 15-year-old is a valued member of the First XI and was awarded the Most Valuable Player last season. He then seamlessly changed codes and won the same award for the Year 10 boys volleyball team.

He was selected for the BOP Under-15 cricket team and shortly will travel to Rarotonga to compete in the Pacific Cricket Cup.

Preece says they both have performed at an outstanding level in all sports they play but also go the extra mile to help out their teammates and coaches.

"Mikaere is a delightful young gentleman. He is one of those kids that gets there early, putting the net up so the coach doesn't have to do it, he will get training under way if the coach is not there, and he is really enthusiastic.

"Sapphire is exactly the same and she has passion and drive for any sport. She gives it her best and that is what has taken her so far. She is playing in senior teams and she is not even 15 yet.

"I think those two ... have got the ability to go really far."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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