Napier Girls’ High School is aiming to go one place better in 2019 as they strive to be the first team in the school’s history to bring home the Fed Cup. After falling to local rivals Iona College and their rising stars 4-0 in the 2018 Fed Cup final, Napier Girls return a strong side to the cup in 2019. Black Sticks Development Player Kaitlin Cotter will look to lead their goal scoring charge after recently starring in the 2019 Vantage National Under 18 Tournament where she scored 11 goals to lead Central to their third successive title. 2019 is looking like it could be the Napier Girls year having stormed through the Hawke’s Bay Secondary School competition with a perfect 10 wins and 44 goals scored and only four goals conceded.
Rileigh Knapp the Napier Girls’ High School Captain spoke with us ahead of the Fed Cup being played in Auckland from the 2nd to the 7th of September.
Q – What are the teams goals for tournament this year?
A – Our goal is to place one better than last year, hopefully taking us to the final and the title.
Q – What are some challenges that the side has needed to overcome this year?
A – A challenge for us this year would be the expectation of being number one after last year’s result, with this extra pressure as a team we need to learn to manage this and stay focused.
Q – What separates your team from some of the others throughout the country?
A – Coming from a smaller region I think team culture is a huge facet that we possess. Napier Girls’ High School has been building this culture over the past five years and I truly believe this is one of the key elements of a successful team.
Q – What does representing your school mean to you?
A – As a third-generation student in my family at Napier Girls’ High School, it has always been a privilege and absolute honour to represent the girls of the white and blue.
Q – What makes the Fed Cup such a special tournament?
A – The high level of talent and competition, the lifelong friendships that are made from girls all around the country and most of all the atmosphere of being at a top-level National Secondary School tournament.
Rob Jones has been the coach at Napier Girls since 2017 having seen his side place 9th and then 2nd in the two Fed Cups that he has been in charge of.
Q – Have there been any challenges this year in your preparation for Fed Cup?
A – Geography, the Napier Girls’ High School side have travelled big distances since February 2019 to play other sides competing at this year’s tournament. Thanks to the support of our school and the willingness of other schools we are incredibly grateful to those sides who have opened up doors and welcomed us into tournaments including the Anzac tournament hosted by St Cuthberts in April and a recent tour to Christchurch hosted by Saint Andrews College as well as our regular pre-tournament games vs Palmerston North Girls High School and St Matt’s.
Q – What are some of the strengths of this team?
A – Without doubt our culture. The girls mindset is that it’s difficult to out-perform culture and that is the foundation that supports everything they and we do on and off the turf.
Q – How important is a good balance between sports and the players education?
A – Finding the balance is everything. We have a side in 2019 that contains year 11-13 girls and we recognise that they all have pressures far beyond hockey so it’s important that the communication between players, coaches & managers is positive and honest. Our approach is that if those learning pressures are managed well then the girls will have a far better hockey experience.
Q – What are the teams goals at Fed Cup this year?
A – We are going to try and make the top eight and along the way hopefully play some great hockey, play fair but with a never say die approach while showcasing some skill and flair. Our senior girls are determined to leave the school in good shape and continue to provide a platform for future Napier Girls High School sides.