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 and 2016.
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 at St Mary’s is an extremely popular sport. In the Senior Primary phase there are up to three teams per age group. Matches take place every Friday afternoon and we participate against the majority of other independent schools in Johannesburg. At the end of the hockey season, all the Senior Primary girls take part in the inter-house competition, a morning of great excitement and sportsmanship.
The girls start learning to play hockey in the Junior Primary phase during morning physical education lessons, and it is offered as a co-curricular activity to all grades in the Junior Primary. The Grade 2 and 3 girls participate in an annual six-a-side tournament in which we enter between two and three teams per grade.
St Mary’s traditionally hosts the annual Grade 4 and 5 A and B and the Grade 6 and 7 B and C Hockey Festival, which is held on a Saturday morning towards the end of the season. The Grade 6 and 7 A teams participate in the annual Riverside Hockey Tour.
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.
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 100 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 encourage 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. St Mary’s has produced a number of Gauteng players over the past few seasons.
Provincial representatives 2016
|Artistic gymnastics||Rebecca Jenkins
Mikayla de Bruin