College sport: Long Bay pair at peak of game

By Terry Maddaford

Rock climber and touch/tag/netball/rugby whizz among many flying college flag.

Josh Evans, 16, and Georgia Hale , 17, both attend Long Bay College in Torbay. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Josh Evans, 16, and Georgia Hale , 17, both attend Long Bay College in Torbay. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Rock climbing might not be everybody's first choice as a "must do" sport but for Long Bay College's Josh Evans it is very much second nature to the degree he no longer admits to any fear in making his way up even the most challenging of climbs.

No surprise in that he has been climbing since he was four or five.

He has now reached the pinnacle of his sport in claiming the New Zealand Open title at the recent championships in Christchurch opting to go for the big one rather than the under-18 title. It is generally accepted Evans is the youngest to win the title.

But that success was overshadowed to a degree when he completed the first successful ascent of Froggat Edge, an intimidating crag reaching sky high with barely a handhold in sight.

After working on a number of challenging climbs at Wharepapa South, south of Te Awamutu and east of Waitomo, Evans tackled the particularly difficult and never-before-climbed route.

In the esoteric language of his sport, he tells of the challenge.

"The route was hard straight off the bat," he said. "It started out with a few moves then a high step up to a truly horrible hold followed by a strenuous move to a forgiving pinch."

He added a hard clip off a bad crimp and a throw out to a sidepull to reach the first crux of the climb. Then it was game on to reach the second crux and head for the top.

"I hit the sloper, got my feet up, sucked in close to the wall, snagged the two finger, hit the gaston and then pulled for the jug."

With that first ascent came naming and grading rights. Evans named the grade 31 climb "Shining Bright Despite the Plight". No one argued with that.

At school he contents himself with an 8m high wall which has attracted nearly 50 to the sport at which he and his father are coaches.

He is not alone in demonstrating his sporting prowess at the North Shore school. Georgia Hale has reached national or international level in touch, tag, netball and rugby with league now in her sights as well.

Hale admits to being a useful student as well with her sights set on university once through next year's seventh form.

"It can be a balancing act at times," said Hale who this year has represented North Harbour in the under-18 touch and tag teams, the under-17 Netball North team and the North Harbour SS rugby team as well as the New Zealand under-18 tag team (which she captains) and the New Zealand under-19 touch team.

"If there is football involved that's me," said the bubbly 17-year-old. "Because dad is involved with the Warriors and Kiwis I am looking forward to playing league as well."

Hale said there have been many highlights but playing in the Tag World Cup - a modified version of rugby league - stands out.

She is especially grateful for the support and encouragement she receives at a school which for so long battled for recognition in light of the plaudits which so often went to other Shore schools like Westlake, Rangitoto, Takapuna Grammar and Rosmini College.

And, it is not just Hale and Evans who have flown the Long Bay College sporting flag this year.

Variety certainly is the keyword for Long Bay pupils who have represented New Zealand.

Included in their long list are Thomas Heijs (NZ under-21 volleyball team at Indo Pacific championships), Charlotte De L'Isle (under-17 Techno windsurfing world youth champs), Lachie Smith (Gymsports New Zealand trampoline transtasman team), Garion Long (New Zealand under-21 curling team for forthcoming competition in Japan), Ethan Barnaby (New Zealand underwater polo team in transtasman challenge and Ashleigh Ward (New Zealand under-20 women's team for Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Japan).

Ben Tsukada flew the flag as a member of the national under-16 baseball team, Thomas Currie was selected, but did not compete, as a member of the NZSS cross country team, judoka Issac Drakely competed against Australia, Monique King swam for New Zealand in Australia and will return there for January's Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.

Nick Auger represented New Zealand as a member of the under-16 inline hockey team, Rachael de Jong was a national under-17 beach volleyball representative against Vanuatu, Harvey Mills played for New Zealand against Australia as a member of the senior Futsal (indoor soccer) team, Aiden Tibbotts was in Australia as New Zealand touch referee while the school's cheerleading could well be led by Naomi Parris-Piper who was in the New Zealand cheerleading team at the world championships in Florida.

- NZ Herald

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