When it comes to the ins and outs of volleyball there is not much Stewart Henderson has not seen over his 45 years coaching the sport at Otumoetai College.

Now officially retired from teaching but still coaching teams at the school, he is immensely proud of the bronze medal winning performance in beach volleyball at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by old boys Sam and Ben O'Dea.

The O'Dea brothers defeated England 2-0 in the play-off for bronze played on Thursday evening.

Henderson well remembers the pathway they took during their five years at Otumoetai College and the immense contribution they have made to the profile of boys' sport in particular at the school.


"There have been three O'Dea boys through the college. Edwin was the trailblazer for the O'Dea's in terms of volleyball. He went through first and then Sam second and Ben was the last one," Henderson said.

"Ben was the tiny one when he came to college. He was pretty small and we thought he was never going to grow as his brothers did as in Year 9 he was relatively small in height.

"His skill level was right up there but we always thought his height would be a disadvantage. Then as he went through school he shot up basically. He is a big boy now.

"Sam was always tall and on to it as regards volleyball. It has always been their main sport and obviously then they branched out into the beach. Most of them get the basics from indoor sport and if they really enjoy volleyball they want to play it all year round they will play in the summer as well."

Ben, left, and Sam O'Dea after their win over England. PHOTO/PHOTOSPORT
Ben, left, and Sam O'Dea after their win over England. PHOTO/PHOTOSPORT

Henderson says he was pleased to see a change in Ben's demeanour on and off the court at the Gold Coast games.

"Ben came out of his shell a lot more I thought than probably Sam did in terms of talking and basically driving the team going. He normally has been the quieter one because he was the youngest going through school but he seemed to blossom.

"The Games showed they improved as they went all the way through which was really good to see."

When it comes to male role models among former students of Otumoetai College the O'Dea brothers have to be right up there with New Zealand cricketer Trent Boult.

Henderson says whenever they are home Sam and Ben drop in to inspire today's students and help out with the school's volleyball programme.

"They come in and help out at Otumoetai College and coach teams whenever they can.

"They put back into the college. We really appreciate what they do. They have been great ambassadors for the college."

But the O'Dea brothers are not the only Otumoetai College connection with the beach volleyball tournament that finishes up on the beach at Gold Coast's Coolangatta today.

The England men's team are coached by Kirk Pittman who played with Otumoetai's Jason Lochhead. Mike Watson, who went to school with Sam and played with him on the world tour for several years, coached the New Zealand women's team of Kelsie Wills and Shaunna Polley who lost to Cyprus in the quarterfinals.