Future bright as Clarence schools clinch state glory
HOCKEY: The Clarence Valley has been a mecca for hockey competition for decades, and it does not appear like it will let up any time soon with the region's next generation continuing to succeed at the highest levels.
For the second time in three years the Grafton High School open boys' side, coached by Scott Smith, have secured the NSW CHS State Championship this week.
Add in the success of Westlawn Public School, who had both their boys' and girls' hockey teams making it to the finals of the NSW PSSA State Knockout Championships.
The Westlawn girls finished joint State champions with Ben Venue Public School after a thrilling gold medal match finished in a 3-all draw.
Meanwhile, despite the best efforts of Westlawn goalkeeper Axel Hargans, the boys could not overcome a very willing Tamworth in the gold medal match, and instead settled for their second knockout silver in as many years.
It was the second time the school had been represented at the finals, which feature the four best out of more than 90 schools, by both genders, but the first time in a decade.
For Westlawn Public hockey coach Lauren Hadley, it was a moment of pride and joy as she watched the students receive their medals at Narellan.
"It is just unbelievable really; it is an achievement to get one team down to Sydney for the knockout finals let alone two,” she said. "We are very proud of them and all they have achieved.
"These kids love their hockey, they are very committed. We train at school at least once a week, and they also play their own club hockey on the weekend. They are always training.”
It is also a chance for the teacher to combine her favourite loves of teaching and hockey.
"To be given the opportunity to coach them and to go away with them to the final was a career highlight for me,” she said.
"Teaching and hockey are my two main passions, so to be able to combine them is surreal really.
"I know some kids in infants are already telling me they are trying out for the hockey team next year. That involvement is fantastic for hockey and fantastic for the school.
"It shows the young kids that no matter where they come from they can achieve at the highest level.”