When a hockey ball was first whacked in her direction Jayshree Patel didn't want to know. She high-tailed it, later admitting she just wanted to avoid it. Hardly the most enterprising start to a newly chosen sport.

Yet, from those tentative beginnings Patel has emerged as one of the feelgood stories from the Auckland secondary schools winter sports season.

Hockey is not big at Parnell College.

In fact, sport is hardly a priority at the central city school which has 800 pupils - 500 in the senior school - and has just one gymnasium to cater for all sports.

Yet, buried in the long list of sports results - in the main dominated by schools in which sport is a driving force - was ACG Parnell College (with the ACG - Academic Colleges Group emphasising their priority) as under-15 girls B/C champions, a breakthrough for a team who set out with no goalkeeper and struggled to find enough players to put 11 on the field.

From those somewhat hopeful rather than ambitious beginnings and with the encouragement of coaches Gillian Magerkorth - who too admits she hasn't played hockey - and her son Jason ("roped in to help out"), things turned around.

Early morning starts every Wednesday gave the girls some direction on the training field - a misnomer in that they do not have any playing fields at the school and hold practice on the indoor netball court at Indoor Sports Stadium in Newmarket.

"At the beginning of the season we played mainly for the enjoyment but as the season ventured on we found ourselves among teams at the top of the table in not having lost a game," said Patel.

"I found it amusing really, the fact that we never had a proper warm-up and some players turned up at times without their socks or shirts while our opponents were dressed perfectly. They even had a goalie! We just ignored the fact that they looked pretty professional and went out and played - and won by about nine goals.

"In the end there were only two games in the season we didn't win," said Patel in paying tribute to her teammates Sarah Benfell, Kate Chevin, Pooja Dahya, Dana De Kretser, Jemma Loy, Zoe Manning, Bridie McCabe, Katherine Newell, Mira Patel and Nicole Wong.

Parnell drew 1-1 with MRGS in the championship round and earlier went down by a goal to top team Avondale - both schools with "flash" all-weather turfs. In both games they were without De Kretser who emerged as their star player. In a must-win championship decider they beat Avondale 2-1 to claim the honours - and the trophy. What trophy?

"There was no trophy and no medals," said Magerkorth. "So we have got together and between the school and the parents we have got a set of medals which we have kept quiet about until now."

It won't be a secret much longer as "prizegiving" is tonight. The excitement will, surely, be there for all to see.

LAWN BOWLS

Shrugging off the difficulties posed by the testing conditions at the Remuera BC, AGS completed their winter sports season on a high with a 3-0 win over KBHS in the final of the Auckland SS inter-school championships.

The AGS A pairing of Finn MacElvanna and team captain Rory Soden charged to a 7-0 lead after four ends against the Auckland pairs champions John Haggie and Sam Lane.

The Kelston duo then scored two shots on the next end after changing the length and continued their fightback closing to 8-5 after nine ends before AGS closed it out 10-5 with two shots on the final end.

Kelston's Ira Neuenschwander and Tom Barclay (Greater Auckland Champions) started well against Auckland Grammar's Conor Mardell and Michael Bell in the B pairs to lead 8-0 after six ends.

A brave shot by Bell to draw a toucher scored AGS' first shot on the seventh end. That sparked the revival the AGS team were looking for and they went on to win 12-8.

The clean sweep was completed in the C pairs but only after a ding-dong battle. The two teams - David Snow and Tim Yates (AGS) and Rory Duggan and Robert Evans (KBHS) were locked 8-8 after 10 ends.

Kelston were holding two shots but AGS the third. It was left to Yates to win the game with his last bowl. Playing an aggressive shot he drove the jack into the ditch to score three shots and claim the 11-8 victory for the team who were coached by Bob Bilkey with Terry MacKain as co-ordinator.

TABLE TENNIS

The Macleans College A team followed their second placing in the NZ SS champs with a comfortable win in the Auckland Early Spring competition.

The Macleans team of Prajoal Arisht, Runze Bai, Zhiyang Cheng, Xiao Jin and Terry Zeng beat AGS 5-2 in the final while their second team had a resounding 7-0 win over St Kentigern to claim fifth place.

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