Tauranga is filled with talented young athletes ready to make their mark on the world. We've already produced world-class athletes such as Kane Williamson, Sam Cane, Trent Boult, Ben and Sam O'Dea and Rose Keddell. All of these athletes started somewhere and in this feature, we look at what the next generation of sporting superstars must do to follow in their footsteps. We speak to experts in athlete development and nutrition, coaches, scouts and parents as well as highlight some of the young men and women already on the pathway to success, who will be profiled in more detail in the coming weeks.
When a coach comes away from a training session with a young athlete knowing they've both learned something - they can be assured they have a sports star in the making.
Former Northern Districts cricket coach James Pamment experienced that with a young Kane Williamson, who tomorrow leads the Black Caps in their World Cup final against England after beating India with an 18-run win on Thursday (NZT).
Pamment worked closely with Williamson in his adolescent years and said although there was no question he was talented, he stood out for reasons beyond that.
During training sessions, Williamson showed a desperation to learn more about his game. He was passionate about his sport; he put in the hours to learn about the skills he needed to be a better athlete and become the cricket star he is today.
"He asked questions ... he was very challenging," Pamment said.
"There was never a question if he learned something," he said.
That made him stand out. He was never being preached to, which Pamment admits made him a better coach.
"It was an equally beneficial experience," he said.
Talent is just the beginning to becoming a professional athlete and while Pamment has worked with many talented cricketers in his time, the work ethic and drive Williamson had was a rarity.
The message that talent is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to pursuing a professional sports career is clear.
Chris Pringle knows first-hand what it takes to make your mark as a sportsman.
The former Black Caps bowler, who played 64 one day internationals and 14 tests in the early 1990s, says any budding professional athlete needs to work hard, have belief and self-confidence, an understanding of their sport and a desire to improve.
"I think it really comes down to how you're wired," Pringle says.
Focus and having a goal is vital for success, he says.
"It seems to be distraction and frustration that takes sportspeople off track."
Today, Pringle is a parent of an aspiring cricket star, Tim Pringle, a 16-year-old who was this week representing his country in the New Zealand Under 19 squad in Australia.
While he has plenty to offer, Pringle says his role is "dad" and is mindful his son is only 16 and needs to develop in his own way.
"I see him having a really strong work ethic and a real passion for the game."
Tim is one of 11 budding Tauranga athletes in their final years of secondary school highlighted as future stars in their sport - all of whom have represented New Zealand in their sport or are on their way to doing so. Among them includes volleyballers Luke Chuter, Jack McManaway, Sarah Stratton and Ben Blackwell, fellow cricketer Fergus Lellman, squash player Glenn Templeton, synchronised swimmer Eden Worsley, rising rugby and rugby league player Teagan Meyer, basketball player William Henry and sailor Veerle Ten Have.
For a young athlete to make it to the top of their chosen sport, Sport Bay of Plenty coaching and sport development team leader Dave Clarke says there are many attributes necessary for sporting success. Talent, he says, is in fact, sixth on the list.
While his current role focuses on developing coaches, Clarke has 30 years of experience as a professional coach in the United Kingdom initially and then in New Zealand as the national squash coach. In that time he has worked with nine world champions and eight Commonwealth Games medallists.
He said on the list of attributes he would look for in a young athlete; talent came after self-responsibility, self-awareness, a performance mindset, ability to learn and be coachable, and an obsessive work ethic.
"There are loads of talented athletes who don't get far at all because they don't have the things that you actually need to be successful. To be successful at the top level now, you need to be very special. Only a small percentage actually make it.
"They need to have these traits to give them a chance of being successful; talent is just your price of entry."
Clarke tells a story of a young man who came into the national squash system as a 13-year-old boy and was easily the least naturally gifted player there.
"When I was national squash coach, I sent this information out to the coaches about the things I was looking for in young athletes. A guy came back to me and said 'look, there's this kid over in Greymouth who has some of these traits, but he's not that good at the moment'.
"I said, send him along so he came to the national selection squad and I got loads of crap from people saying 'what's this kid doing here?'.
"At that camp, he worked his butt off and literally improved session by session. As part of it, we sat each of them down for one-on-ones, and I asked him why he should be selected in the national squad. He said 'I know I'm the worst player here at the moment, but I guarantee I'll work harder than anyone else.
"So, I put him in and he ended up playing for New Zealand at the World Junior Championships where they came fifth, he played number two there. At 19 I selected him in the national senior team."
That 13-year-old was Paul Coll, New Zealand's top men's squash player and currently ranked sixth in the world. Last year, at the Commonwealth Games, he claimed silver in the men's singles and bronze in the mixed doubles. He is living proof that it takes more than just talent to succeed.
The Sport New Zealand Talent Plan 2016-20 focuses on "growing the capability of the competitive sporting system to better prepare athletes for high performance through quality sporting experiences in the development phase".
The overarching goal is to encourage more young people and adults to remain active in competitive sporting pathways, strengthening local, regional and national competitions.
Clarke said when building a house, you can't put the roof on until the walls are up. It's the same with young athletes - without a solid foundation, you will not get far.
"The key focus with young athletes is you're developing them to realise their potential in sport and life. It's about winning in the long run, not about winning next week.
"You don't need to be the best player right now. That's why I think it's important to make sure we're including as many as we can and developing young people for as long as we can."
Clarke had several pieces of advice he would give to young athletes with lofty ambitions.
"One is to make sure you have a good environment where you can be happy at training; you have the right facilities around you. They don't have to be flash, just appropriate.
"You need to have a good coach and a team around you — one who either has a track record or is constantly looking to develop themselves, preferably both. If you're working with a coach who is doing no self-development, that would be a red flag because the coach has to grow with their athlete at an equal speed. Otherwise, the athlete will start to supersede the coach quite quickly.
"They also need a good team in terms of their parents being supportive, a good physio and other support when they need it. You don't necessarily need an army, but you need people around you who really care about you, people you can trust.
"You should ideally be aligned with the governing body for your sport to a certain extent. Operating outside of that sphere is going to make things incredibly difficult for you. You want to look to have good connections with your national sporting body, what support they can offer you and what competition options are available for you."
Being mentally tough is just as important when it comes to success.
Zane Winslade, who runs a private mental performance coaching business called FlowSport, works with individuals, local schools and organisations such as Bay of Plenty Rugby Union.
While his clients range in age between 10 and 60, his main focus is youth sport, running resilience programmes for youth in sport to give kids an insight into how to train the mind and improve their mental toughness.
In a general sense, Winslade helps people overcome obstacles that get in the way of them being their best self out on the sports field.
"Someone might be struggling to get confidence back after a serious injury, have trouble performing under pressure or dealing with emotions such as anger ... ultimately it's not always about me giving them the tools as much as it is about being someone that can listen to them from a neutral perspective and help them find their own answers to the issues they may be facing," Winslade says.
He says hard work is inevitable, but it needs to be driven from within and not be forced upon someone.
"It takes real self-motivation, they have be engaged and loving the relentless process of growing and getting better and get their satisfaction from that, rather than just doing it for the outcomes or accolades they receive as a result and from the mental side of things a lot of the top athletes have also had the experiences and support necessary to develop the resilience, or the mental skills to be able to cope with the failures and setbacks which are inevitable in any sport."
For any young athlete wanting to pursue a professional sporting career, Winslade says they should put less focus on where they want to be and instead keep their eyes on what they can control and how to get better.
"I try and get athletes to really focus on the personal qualities they bring to the table and who they want to be when they perform rather than what you want to get out of it. That takes your focus to the future and off the outcomes that we can't fully control.
"I talk a lot about giving rather than getting. Like, what can you give to each moment - from a unique place of who you are, rather than what you want to get out of it in more of that outcome sense."
For parents, backing off a bit will help.
"Most importantly love your child for who they are, not how they perform and really think about what you reinforce with them after each competition if celebrate moments of maximum effort and persistence rather than moments of winning."
Winslade says it is more than likely a child will not make a career out of sport, so it's essential to make sure sport is more about them learning life lessons through working hard at a craft and persevering rather than wanting them to be the next big superstar.
"I think parents are often quick to try and stop their son or daughter experiencing difficult and challenging times also, but those are the ones that help give kids the mental resilience that lasts a lifetime so although it's hard letting kids experience adversity whilst maintaining a supportive environment is key."
Be a team player
Luisa Avaiki is a New Zealand rugby league legend and was part of the inaugural Kiwi Ferns side in 1995. She is now the Warriors Women's NRL team head coach and the NZRL development/wellbeing manager.
This week she was in Rotorua checking out some of the girls in action at the North Island Districts League Tournament. She told NZME about some of the things she looks for when looking at young league players.
"In rugby league specifically there are a few things. Physique helps and it doesn't necessarily have to be the biggest person, a lot of rugby league is around strength and speed, good balance and good ball skills.
"Also, just an awareness, spatial awareness, about where they can evade players and a bit of vision. I especially look for girls and young women who compete, have a go and back themselves, even if they're a smaller player."
She also looked closely at how players interacted with their teammates.
"As you get to a higher level in your code, coaches don't necessarily always look for the player who is the most outstanding. Attitude and character are massive for me.
"If they're a good teammate and just by their conduct, the things they say and how they treat their teammates, for me, I watch a lot of that. It shows me what kind of person they are. On the field, particularly in rugby league, it's not just your role which is important, it's how you interact with those around you. That is a skill and that shows leadership. That's important.
"Willingness to learn is important too. You might have an athlete who thinks they are really talented, and everyone tells them they're really talented; they start to think there is nothing else to learn. That's a really hard person to coach," Avaiki said.
Fueling your body
It is therefore essential they learn how to fuel their bodies effectively as soon as possible, says Sport Bay of Plenty health team leader Larissa Cuff.
"It's really important and I think the key thing for young athletes to focus on is what I would call getting the basics right. What I mean by that is learning the timing of when to eat - that's probably the most important thing.
"Making sure they're fuelling for their training or competition and then recovering with good nutrition afterwards."
She said if athletes could learn to fuel themselves effectively early on in life, it would benefit them as adults.
"Like anything else, it puts good habits in place, so they don't have to relearn when things get more serious. If they're doing lots of training on multiple days, their body needs really good fuel to keep performing.
"Also be organised is what I would say to a young athlete. If they have school then training, what do they need to pack in their bag to make sure they have the food they need to get them through that time."
Tips for young athletes with big ambitions
Have a good team:
Surround yourself with people who care about you and who you trust.
Be a team player:
Particularly in team sports, remember you are one of many cogs in the machine.
Search for opportunities and make contact with people in positions to help you make the right moves.
Be willing to learn:
An athlete who thinks they already know everything is hard to coach.
Fuel your body:
Learn as early as possible how to eat and drink the right things before and after training to get the most out of your body.
Develop good habits early:
As your sporting career progresses and becomes more serious, the more aspects of athlete life that are already ingrained, the easier it will be.
Have a positive attitude:
Be able to take criticism, make the most of it and recover from setbacks.
Don't be narrow-minded:
Everything you do is about winning in the long run, not about winning next week.
Be organised and take responsibility for your own training. Pack your own bags and make sure you have everything you need to get through that time.
Gain satisfaction from growing and improving, rather outcomes or accolades. Put a strong focus on what you can control, not what you can't.
Tips for parents:
Back off a bit: Love your children for who they are and not how they perform.
Drive them around and support them without being too tough.
Celebrate moments of maximum effort and persistence rather than moments of winning.
Make sure sport is about learning life lessons through working hard at a craft and persevering.
Don't stop children from experiencing difficult and challenging times as it helps give kids mental resilience.
Let kids experience adversity while maintaining a supportive environment.
Tauranga's Future stars and their goals for 2020:
Luke Chuter - Ōtūmoetai College Year 13 volleyball player: To get noticed while playing in the High-Performance Championships in Florida this month in a bid to receive a scholarship to an American college next year.
Jack McManaway - Tauranga Boys' College head boy and indoor and beach volleyball player: To gain a scholarship to play volleyball in America, studying towards a law and accounting double degree.
Tim Pringle - Tauranga Boys' College Year 13 - Cricket: To play Northern Districts A cricket.
Fergus Lellman - Aquinas College Year 13 cricketer: To play Northern Districts A cricket.
Glenn Templeton - Katikati College Year 13 squash player: To make the New Zealand Junior Worlds team again and to break into the top 300 men in the world.
Sarah Stratton - Bethlehem College Year 13 volleyballer: To gain a scholarship to play volleyball at a college in America, make the New Zealand Junior women's Beach Volleyball and indoor volleyball teams.
Eden Worsley - Bethlehem College Year 13 Synchronised Swimmer: To continue to work hard and train to improve with the aim of qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games at the next world champs.
Teagan Meyer - Tauranga Girls' College Year 13 rugby union and rugby league player: To apply for the Navy, continue being involved with the Warriors, and rugby union through the Under 18 rep squad.
William Henry - Mount Maunganui College Year 13 basketball player: To gain a scholarship to play American college basketball or join the New Zealand NBL.
Ben Blackwell - Mount Maunganui College Year 13 volleyball: To get noticed while competing at the USA High-Performance Championships in the US this month with the aim of being scouted for an American volleyball scholarship next year. If that is unsuccessful, continue playing beach volleyball through the summer and hopefully represent New Zealand at the Asian Champs in 2020.
Veerle Ten Have - Year 13 student studying via correspondence and sailor.