They make a living from what they take home in their pay packet as physical education teachers but it's what they selflessly offer that adds value to impressionable lives and, ultimately, makes the educators immensely proud.

Just ask Leanne Wilson after she received a Hawke's Bay Today Service to Sport Award on Monday night for contribution to provincial secondary schools' sports for almost two decades.

Wilson was among 10 others who received gongs at the Sport Hawke's Bay-organised ceremony at the Municipal Theatre in Napier.

It's fair to say the PE teachers are time poor but abundantly wealthy in compassion as they strive to make a difference to the lives of impressionable teenagers. They don't just help teens enhance their prowess but also possess an intrinsic ability to recognise traits that may be dormant in their charges.


Bling and higher accolades aside, countless high schoolers tend to embark on careers well into their formative years but only the astute are forever in debt on realising how the gallant group has added value to their lives that goes way beyond the call of duty or boundaries of sport.

"I don't know, it felt like a lot of the times I didn't have much of a life apart from teaching," says a grinning Wilson who taught at Hastings Girls' High School from 1991 to 2016 and now is on a one-year relieving stint with Sacred Heart College in Napier.

"But you get such a thrill when you know the kids you've been involved with do really well because as a PE teacher you see so much talent but not everybody gets that opportunity to realise that talent so it's good for the schools to give them that."

The 57-year-old from Clive echoes the sentiments of other recipients when she reveals they have fulltime teaching schedules and reports to file but add to that more than 10 hours a week on other sports-related activities.

That often entails relinquishing lunch hours and morning teas. Turning up for codes on Saturday mornings — such as for basketball trainings, for example — is the norm because it's the only practical time to bring the schoolgirls together.

"Sometimes we weren't getting home until half past 10 at night after volleyball on Thursdays or Fridays when there was basketball," she says, adding if the teams made the nationals then it was a week of the holidays between terms, never mind losing traction with home on regular weekends.

"You spend endless hours trying to upskill with coaching or you're managing and fund raising trying to put together money for trips."

The likes of high schools didn't have fulltime sports co-ordinators and PE teachers, as a rule, had to be with travelling teams although Wilson impresses HGHS were lucky to have former graduates return to mentor voluntarily.


The PE teachers didn't receive fiscal fillip but she hastens to add HGHS kindly offered petrol vouchers on trips to help talented teenagers reach their potential.

"It's truly appreciated but you don't do it for money — no — you do it [to help others]."

Wilson sees reciprocal benefits as a mother of two who likes to believe her children profited in a similar way in their schools through the good intentions of others.

"It was good to see my daughter go to the basketball nationals, which is something I never got at school, and my son was at Napier Boys' High School so he got trips to Super 8 crosscountry and all that sort of stuff.

"It's always good to see you do that for other people's kids but some people do that for your kids as well."

She says teenagers often learn to deal with adversity, for instance, warming the benches in basketball but reconciling it with playing a pivotal part for the collective to grow.

"I'm incredibly proud of some of the girls I've helped on the way in high school are doing really well on the national scene in different sports," she says.

NBHS PE head Peter McGlashan also was recognised for his input over the years with 10 others during the secondary schools' sports awards in Napier on Monday. Photo / File
NBHS PE head Peter McGlashan also was recognised for his input over the years with 10 others during the secondary schools' sports awards in Napier on Monday. Photo / File

Wilson says PE teachers often tend to build a pseudo filial affinity with high schoolers that can extend to transporting them to venues or even retrieving forgotten gear from home.

"We are able to change their lives a little bit sometimes through sport because for some kids that's what they love most about school," she says reflecting on Ian Johnson, of Havelock North High School, who once told her at the volleyball nationals that "kids don't often remember the exciting things they learn in classrooms but they remember their sport trips".

Auckland-born Wilson lends credence to that in recalling how she took an HGHS to an athletics nationals in Whanganui one year where an interesting mix of sprint relay girls from Flaxmere had struck a chord with counterparts from elite schools.

"I came back to their hostel to find them with all these girls from posh schools and had them organising karaoke and everything so it was all so funny."

It's really nice to be appreciated at the awards ceremony, she says, because some values prevalent at primary school dissipate by the time youngsters enter secondary school.

"Sometimes parents and kids forget to say thank you for all the hours that you put in and after a while it kind of puts you off a little bit."

Conversely Wilson says those at the helm of teams aren't necessarily the best mentors but stresses if they aren't there pupils won't have the opportunity to play that sport at a level or at all.

"That's because in Hawke's Bay there isn't always the opportunity for coaches to develop their skills."

Wilson says her husband, Bill Livingstone, and children have been patient and understanding over the years.

"I can remember my son sitting in the dark and cold at Napier Boys' High waiting for me to finish basketball training to run over to pick him up so your kids miss out a little bit when you're involved with other people's kids.

"Bill's also had to hold the fort while I've been away," she says.


Stephen Small (HBHS); Leanne Wilson (HGHS); Tom Blake, Tash Crawford, Josie Hunter, Vicky Peffer (all Karamu High School); Ralph Harper (Lindisfarne College); Deb McKenzie, Roni Nuku, Rose Cudby (all NGHS); Peter McGlashan (NBHS).