St Mary’s has an excellent balance between sport and academic and cultural activities, critical in the development of young girls today. Our facilities include a 50m swimming pool and state-of-the-art diving complex, AstroTurf and grass hockey fields, and squash, tennis and netball courts.
Girls are encouraged to participate in both competitive and non-competitive sport and are provided with this opportunity by taking part in team and inter-house sport. The Senior Primary physical education lessons are utilised for coaching the sport relevant to the season. Each sport concludes with termly inter-house competitions.
The Junior Primary physical education lessons in the morning are divided between educational gymnastics and ball skills, which include basic netball, tennis and hockey skills. During the first and third terms, swimming is taught as we believe this is a vital life skill. The Junior Primary girls are offered afternoon co-curricular activities in the sport relevant to the season.
All children participate in the inter-house athletics which marks the end of the season. During physical education lessons, girls are taught the various disciplines from the athletics curriculum.
The athletics team, made up of girls from Grades 3 to 7, competes at various inter-school events during the season. Athletics can accommodate only a limited number of team participants but we encourage any girl wishing to train with the team to attend athletics training in the co-curriuclar time slot in the afternoons. The Grade 7 or Open girls take part in all disciplines, which include 800m, 200m, 100m, hurdles, relay, long jump and high jump, and the Grade 3 girls compete in 80m, long jump and relay events. The annual Prestige inter-school athletics event is highly contested and all eight participating girls’ schools go head-to-head for first place. St Mary’s won this event in 2015, 2016 and again 2017.
Diving requires a high degree of co-ordination, nerves of steel, grace and poise. Not every girl is cut out to be a diver but all girls learn to do the basic dives during physical education lessons and are invited to attend training in the afternoon sessions with our expert coaches. We dive in the first and third terms, and competitions take place in the second half of the third term.
Diving at St Mary's has become very popular. We have excellent facilities with a 5m platform, wide enough for synchronised diving, two 3m springboards, two 1m springboards and a practice half-metre board. There are bubbles under each of the boards to ensure a safe and pain-free experience when learning new dives. The pool is 4.5m deep under all the boards, which more than complies with FINA standards. We have excellent dryland facilities comprising two pit model trampolines with safety overhead spotting equipment.
St Mary’s divers regularly deliver winning performances.
Many girls ride at stables in and around Johannesburg. St Mary’s has a small team of girls from all grades who participate in the Equestrian Schools’ League run by the South African National Equestrian Federation (SANEF). Those girls who participate in the league are supported by the school.
The league competitions take place at Eaton Farm and there are a number of disciplines in which the girls compete: dressage, showing, equitation and show jumping.
Hockey is a popular sport at St Mary’s. In the Senior Primary phase, there are several teams per grade and we do our best to arrange matches for all of them. Matches take place every Friday afternoon and we participate against the majority of other independent schools in Johannesburg. The inter-house competition, at the end of each season, is always a highlight. All the girls are encouraged to play and this provides an ideal opportunity for the players to enjoy themselves, in the company of their friends, in a less pressurized match situation.
Hockey, in the Junior and Senior Primary phases, is offered during morning physical education lessons, and as a co-curricular activity to all grades in the afternoons. We pride ourselves in offering a solid foundation for the players when they are younger and as they progress so does the level of age appropriate, skills and expectations.
The Grade 2 and 3 girls participate in an annual six-a-side tournament in which we enter several teams per age group.
St Mary’s hosts the annual Grade 4 A-D and Grade 6 B and C hockey festivals. These festivals take place on Saturday’s towards the end of the season.
Traditionally, the Grade 6 and 7A teams play in the St Mary’s DSG Tournament towards the end of the season. This tournament provides great exposure for our girls. They thoroughly enjoy the time away with their teammates and they learn many valuable lessons on the playing field.
St Mary’s focuses on netball in the second term and fields five teams in most age groups. Netball has grown as a competitive sport and we compete in a league. Each age group has two coaches and girls receive individual attention. Good sportsmanship and team play are encouraged. The teams practise once a week during class lessons where they work on skills, and one afternoon a week, where the girls concentrate on game play. Matches are played on Thursday afternoons.
Rhythmic gymnastics is an amalgam of gym, music, dance and the use of hand apparatus. It is the perfect combination of creativity, fitness and eye-hand co-ordination. Girls who are involved in this activity develop an appreciation for music and movement and benefit from the healthy effects of aerobic exercise. We use ribbons, ropes, balls, hoops and clubs as part of the routines and many St Mary’s girls have achieved provincial recognition. We combine our sessions with girls from Waverley Girls’ High School and these girls add a wonderfully vibrant dimension to rhythmic gymnastics.
Rowing (Grade 7)
Rowing is the ultimate team sport; everyone in the boat has a role. The younger girls are nurtured and inspired by the older girls and our rowing club is more than a club, it is a family. It is not necessary to have excelled at another sport to become a rower.
Rowing is a high school sport but, because the season starts in the third term (September), girls in Grade 7 are invited to join the rowing club. Their first experience of rowing is at the pre-season rowing camp, held during the last week of the August/September holidays. The season ends after the South African Schools’ Championships held during the first weekend of March.
Training is both water-based, at Victoria Lake Club in Germiston, and land-based, in the school’s ergo room. Regattas are held on Saturdays and the club is dependent on the support of families with transport and involvement in the club.
We are extremely proud of our many successes since our inception as a rowing club in 1993. The premier schools’ event in the rowing calendar, the South African Schools’ Rowing Championships, has been won by St Mary’s on 16 of the 22 occasions we have competed. St Mary’s has won the prestigious Schools’ Boat Race ten times in this event’s 16-year history. Over the years, our girls have been selected to travel overseas as members of junior national squads, representing South Africa in countries such as Egypt, France, England, Belgium, China, Lithuania, Brazil, Holland and Germany.
Squash is gaining in popularity in the Junior School. Pupils from Grade 4 upwards are invited to join the St Mary’s squash club to learn the game. The squash club meets twice a week during term time. Once serving is mastered, a girl can advance to the intermediate section. Inter-house squash has also been introduced in recent years. In the second term, teams are entered in the Junior Schools League and St Mary’s has often fielded as many as four teams in this league. A few girls have been eligible for provincial selection.
Recently, we introduced mini squash for Grade 1, 2 and 3 which is proving to be very popular.
Swimming is taken very seriously at St Mary’s as we feel that it is a life skill that needs to be mastered at an early age. Once a week, in the mornings, children in Grade 00 have fun morning lessons. Many staff members are in the pool with the children at any given time and this programme has been an outstanding success.
We encourage parents to have their children swimming, or at least water-safe, by the time they enter Grade 0.
All Senior and Junior Primary girls take part in swimming during their morning physical education lessons, and the team swimmers have two co-curricular slots per week. We offer swimming for non-team girls who wish to improve their stroke technique and fitness. At the end of the first term, every girl in Senior and Junior Primary takes part in the inter-house gala.
There are four teams at St Mary’s which allows for over 150 girls to compete for their school every Friday afternoon. The girls participate competitively from Grade 3 and all events are run on a relay system.
Tennis is offered from Grades 1 to 7. The emphasis is on basic ball skills in Grade 1, progressing to the basic technique on all the strokes in Grades 2 and 3. Mini nets, smaller rackets and softer balls are used to encourage rallying.
Some players progress to a Grade 4 and 5 squad which practises once a week. Friendly matches are arranged during the first and third terms. Other players are encouraged to attend social tennis, which is offered in the first and third term.
St Mary’s enters four teams in the Junior League which is played in the first and third terms. This gives many players a chance to play in matches. Apart from the league matches, the players participate in the Junior School Singles and Doubles Championships held in the third term.
St Mary’s participates in the Sun City Private Primary Schools tournament held during the August holidays.
Water polo (Grade 5)
Water polo is a physical game requiring fitness, ball skills and co-ordination. At St Mary’s we strive to develop the sport from a young age and the girls are encouraged to work as a team and to motivate one another in the pool. Our teams range from U11 to U13. The young St Mary’s water polo players show much promise for the future.
The U13 team competes in various junior water polo festivals. They take part in the U13 St Stithians Invitational tournament and have placed in the top three of this national tournament for the past two years.
In 2018, we introduced the U13 St Mary’s Water Polo Championship and hope that this tournament will grow into a national tournament.
South African representatives 2017
Provincial representatives 2017
Mikayla de Bruin
Aimee – Rose Houlston