During the first week of the holidays, the RGGS Firsts Netball team travelled to Mackay to compete in the annual Queensland Independent Secondary Schools netball competition or QISSN. This competition involves 70 netball teams, in both boys and girls divisions. These teams come together to compete against Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Independent schools from all across Queensland. The Confraternity Rugby League Carnival (or QISSRL) has 54 teams and this year was combined with QISSN. These carnivals are two of the largest netball and rugby league school carnivals in Australia.
While the rest of our Girls Grammar family were enjoying the start of their holidays, we were heading off to Mackay bright and early Sunday morning 26 June. We arrived in Mackay after the four hour bus trip and stopped by Subway to refuel ready for the afternoon events.
We checked into the motel and spent some time exploring everything it had to offer. We were most excited with our rooms, especially when we heard some of the other teams were sleeping in swags on sports clubhouse floors. With shiny, polished shoes and neatly ironed formal uniforms, we made our way over to the showgrounds for the official opening ceremony that afternoon. There was a slight mishap on arrival to the opening ceremony as we realised that we had forgotten the netball dress that the captains needed to present at the ceremony; so it added a little bit of the excitement for Mrs Doherty and Sophie as they had to race back to the accommodation and try to return with the dress before it started. It all worked out fine and after the longest two hours of our lives, QISSN was officially underway. Thank goodness Mrs Doherty cooked lasagne for us before we came away, because by the time the ceremony, and captains and managers meetings were finished, every grocery store and restaurant in Mackay was closed. We settled in to enjoy the State of Origin game as a team and enjoyed poking fun at Bria, the only NSW supporter, until they hit the lead that was.
We headed out for our team photos, which of course, we had to have before we got all sweaty and ruined our hair. Our first game was at 1.00pm against St Michael’s College. While we played really well, we were a little shocked by the speed of the game and the height of our opposition, which didn’t get any better as the week progressed; there were some tall humans there. After our first loss, we backed up against Mt Maria College. We were leading going into half time, but Mt Maria came out strong after the break and got out to a lead we just couldn’t get back. Although this was a 10-15 loss, we picked our heads up after the first game and came back stronger. Our last game was at 4.30pm against St James Lutheran College. We had some nice court movement, and our defensive end was making them work for every goal. Again, we pushed them right to the end, but they took the win 18-12. The real win for the day came with pulled pork burgers and burritos for dinner.
After a very early night Monday, we got up bright and early Tuesday to play our first game at 9.00am. First, we played St Luke’s Anglican College, which again saw us leading, only to have a slow patch in the second half to go down 7-14. We were determined to put in a full 30 minutes effort in our second game of the day against Assumption College. It was all coming together as we went into half time with a 6-4 lead and seemed to have the upper hand. Their coach must be the best motivational speaker in the world because they came out strong and put three quick goals on us to go ahead by one. It was a close battle that went goal for goal for the rest of the game, seeing us go down 10-11. We were just getting the momentum when we were beaten by the clock, 30 seconds more and we would have taken it out. With an early finish to games for the day, we watched some of the Confro rugby league games and then headed back for a spot of shopping before a BBQ dinner.
Much to our disgust, we got up early Wednesday morning to go for a walk along the river front, despite our first game being at 11.30. At least we made a coffee stop to perk us up a bit. We suffered a pretty hard loss against Trinity College, who had Queensland players and Junior Firebirds players in their team, but it was just what we needed to motivate us during our next game against Xavier Catholic College, the top team of the division. While we had another loss, we played really strong netball and kept them to a much smaller score line than most other teams in the pool. We headed out to the Grove Tavern for a team dinner and invited our families along for a great night.
Thursday was quarter-final and semi-final day, we gave it all of our blood, sweat and tears (quite literally). We lost against Marist College Emerald, and went down 10-16 against St James Anglican College. The day was not over for us as Ally, Laura and Andie showed off their netball knowledge by commentating a live streamed game on the show court, where the local derby of Grammar verse TCC was taking place. Now came the dreaded pack as we had an early start the next day. Some girls managed to pack their bags quickly and easily, while others had their gear spread across three different motel rooms and found it quite a challenge to get everything back into their bags.
After pulling down the tent and packing the trailer, it was here, Friday, our last game. We had done our homework and watched games of St John’s College to prepare, but there was a last minute draw change and we ended up playing Assumption College again. We were hoping to get the better of them in this rematch, but with injuries and heavy legs, it wasn’t to be.
Throughout our week at Mackay we had so much fun shopping, going out to dinner, playing card games and watching a lot of netball and rugby league games, and we are sure we speak on behalf of the team when we say this experience went way too quickly. There were a few injuries throughout the week, backs, hamstrings, ankles, wrists and more, but we all pushed through with the help of our teammates (and a load of strapping tape, voltaren gel and the massage gun).
We would like to say a huge thank you to Laura Bass for all her hard work coaching us over the last five months. Her dedication to the afternoon and early morning training sessions and late night games has really seen us improve so much as a team and as individual players.
Thank you to Mrs Doherty, for being our manager, making all the bookings, cooking and preparing our meals, scoring, and driving the bus. We appreciate your time and efforts to help the trip run smoothly.
We would also like to thank the P&F for their financial support to help lower costs of the trip and the Lewis family for their donation of an enclosed trailer to help transport all our gear to Mackay.
While it is sad to say that we won’t be there next year, I have no doubt that the girls will continue to grow and develop with QISSN success to come.
Andie Lang and Arkadie Dwyer
QISSN Team Captains