John Paul College's historic win in the Bay of Plenty A Grade hockey final was years in the making.
Co-coach Fiona MacGregor said the majority of the players in the First XI team who beat Trident High School 1-0 in the final in Rotorua on Thursday have been playing together since Year 7.
"They are now a mostly senior team, but I have to also make a huge shoutout to our very small Year 9 goalkeeper Chris Everitt who stepped up when we lost our goalkeeper this year. Most of them have played together for quite a while.
"[In the final] they played with composure, discipline and exhibited John Paul College values throughout the whole game. They're just such a tight unit, they're an awesome bunch of boys.
"They're respectful and they have an outstanding work ethic.
"Most people know me as being quite loud, but last night, for once, I was left speechless. For myself and Neil Watson, we coach together, it has been a culmination of years of work, there are no words to describe it. It's one of the proudest moments we've ever had as coaches," MacGregor said yesterday.
"Trident put up a good fight, they're a talented team and they deserved to be in the final with us. Full credit to them for giving us a really good game."
John Paul College were one game off an unbeaten season.
"This whole season they've had one loss, which was in the grading round against Trident, other than that we've been undefeated. This is the first time our boys have qualified for the final, let alone won it.
"The support last night during the final - we've never experienced the level of support we had for our school at the turf last night. We had more supporters than we've ever seen, including teachers, parents, past and present students and coaches and students from other schools who turned out to support the local team in the final."
As a result of their recent performances, John Paul College is well represented in the Bay of Plenty under-18 representative side with captain Ivan MacGregor, vice captain Gurmaan Sandhu, Kuljyot Lall and Tiaan Buys all getting the call-up. Zane Phipps made the Bay of Plenty under-15 team and Ethan Cameron made the under-15 development team.
MacGregor said the win had helped raise the profile of hockey within the school.
"The development team, who are coached by ex-student Colin Bates, have also performed well this year and those boys are now on that pathway. The First XI boys present themselves as outstanding role models to the development team and it bodes well for the future."