Juggling six training sessions, trips away and two games a week is not easy for any athlete.
Winning three trophies does make it worth it, though.
It has been a reality for Waitaki Boys’ High School pupils Siua Fonua, Alex Wilson, Jake Roney and Lochie Mavor as they balanced playing for both the Waitaki Boys’ First XV rugby team and the senior A basketball side.
However, both teams had standout seasons – the basketball team went back to back in winning the Otago secondary schools title this year, while the first XV won the Leo O’Malley Trophy, in the annual interschool against St Kevin’s College, and the Otago Secondary School Ritchies Cup, in the middle-four final.
Lochie said it had been “pretty amazing” to be involved in the school’s success, but juggling training and game commitments was hard work.
The first XV trained on Tuesday and Thursday nights and had Wednesday morning gym sessions. Basketball training was on Monday and Thursday nights, and Wednesday mornings, forcing the players to co-ordinate what training they would pick for the week.
Jake said they had gained a lot from the experience – and won three trophies.
Covid-19 had also presented some challenges for the sports.
While New Zealand was at Level 1 for the annual interschool match against St Kevin’s and the Ritchies Cup final win, allowing big crowds at the games, basketball was a different story. When Waitaki Boys’ won the basketball final against Otago Boys’ High School two weeks ago, after an extended break due to lockdown, it was behind closed doors as a result of Level 2.
Jake said it was quite a different experience having no “fans” but it was still an incredible win.
“Win or loss – we’re still always happy, a smile on our faces,” Jake said.
Building a strong team culture had been key to both teams’ successes and helping the boys balance to the sports.
The first XV welcomed many new players this season, and coach Mark Wilson helped create a “brotherhood”, Jake said.
“It’s been the bond and culture that’s helped get us over the line this year. It’s just been together as brothers and as family – it’s been one of our main mottos throughout the season,” he said.
Siua said the team bond, which had helped players to grow, and playing for one another made a huge difference.