college logoThe news just keeps getting better for Ashburton College with its rebuild project receiving both a size and a cash boost.

In March Prime Minister Jacinda Adern announced at the college that there would be a complete, $50 million rebuild of the 50-year-old school.

That build has now been upped to include extra classrooms and a likely increase in spend of up to $60 million.

College principal Ross Preece said the change came after an error in the number of classrooms in the original documents was spotted.

The school has 62 classrooms, a roll of 1200 and is at 100 per cent occupancy.

The new build had just 64 classrooms.

When the rebuild was announced, the plan was to build support space – reception areas, library etc – for a maximum roll of 1600, however, with that proposal the devil was definitely in the detail, Preece said.

“At 1200 our roll is at 100 per cent capacity with 62 classrooms but with just two additional classrooms we were no better off.”

The school alerted the Ministry of Education and the plan was revisited with the outcome an increase to 76 classrooms and an indication the build cost would be closer to $60 million.

Classroom space for 1350 students would be built initially, but the plan includes provision for an extra block as the roll grows, Preece said.

Preliminary work on the rebuild has started, with interest registered from 12 architectural firms, both on and off-shore.

Site visits by some of those had already begun.

He anticipates the architect will be appointed by the end of September.

Staff and board members had been working on an education brief wishlist of ideas for the new school and there would be consultation with students and the community, he said.

While it was unclear when site work would begin, the ministry had set the latest date for completion at December 2025.

Whether the new school is built in stages or not depends on location.

If it was sited on the rugby fields and Middle Road netball courts then it could be completed before the old school was demolished, Preece said.

“When it comes to how and where, we’ll be guided by the experts,” he said.

By Sue Newman © The Ashburton Guardian - 20 August 2019

college logoAs the final minutes ticked away in last week’s Mid Canterbury Netball semi-final between College A and United A, I was nervous.

I was a neutral person on the sideline with a camera and a notepad in my hands, but I was still nervous.

It was a game that could have gone either way.

It was a physical battle, full of drama, and it was simply just great.

So, my fingers are crossed that this weekend’s big final between College A and Celtic A will be just as good, if not better.

And I reckon it will be.

That’s because it’s been quite a netball season.

Unlike last year where Celtic A went through the whole season unbeaten and downed Methven A in the final to put the cherry on top of what was a pretty impressive year, 2019 has been anyone’s game.

Every team has been beaten at least once.

It’s been like one big rollercoaster ride for some teams, with plenty of ups, downs and loop-de-loops leading us to the point where we are at right now.

Saturday will be a massive day at the EA Networks Centre.

While the main premier one and premier grade two games have played out on Thursday nights all season, this year Mid Canterbury Netball is doing things a little bit differently and playing all of its finals on the same day – bar the Wednesday night social grades.

The day’s big feature game will be the premier one final between College A and Celtic A – and it should be a right cracker.

I have been there every Thursday night this season, taking in the action and trying really hard to take photos that don’t include overly screwed up faces, tongues poking out, or undies showing – it’s not easy.

But it’s been great fun.

Last Thursday night, that semi-final between College A and United A had to be a contender for game of the season so far.

It was full-on from go to whoa.

Neither side gave an inch.

Every player on that court put their body on the line for the cause, and the crowd – which was also probably one of the biggest and loudest of the season so far – loved it.

It was the kind of game where it was a shame there had to be a loser.

It was sad for United to lose, after such a huge season where they clawed their way out of premier two to become a true premier one title contender, but it also would have been a tragedy had the young College side lost.

They play a lot of netball, and they’re a team that has grown week after week.

They play with the kind of maturity that you don’t always see with school-aged sides, and they have to go into the final as favourites.

But, Celtic A can never be written off.

Like most teams, they went through a bit of a bad patch in the season’s second round, but they’ve well and truly hit their straps again in recent weeks.

And most of the girls in green have one big thing on their sides – experience, or more importantly, finals experience.

At this point in the season it’s all about the one game.

College A may have had the better of Celtic A so far this season, drawing with them in round one before beating them in rounds two and three, but that doesn’t count for a lot now.

No matter what the sport, a final is a different beast.

There’s nerves and pressure to contend with, and a lot of noise coming from the sidelines.

It all comes down to who handles all of those different factors the best.

What team that will be on Saturday, I don’t know.

But I’m really excited to find out.

By Erin Tasker © The Ashburton Guardian - 20 August 2019

Alice Hamill United A Netball webUnited A’s Alice Hamill looks to receive a pass under pressure from College A’s Faith Scott during Thursday night’s semi-finals. Photo Erin TaskerCollege A and Celtic A will contest the 2019 Mid Canterbury Netball premier one final after both won close, but vastly different semi-finals at the EA Networks Centre on Thursday night.

Top-of-the-table College A took on fourth-ranked United A in the night’s first semi-final and although the underdog United side led for much of the match, the young competition favourites came through when it mattered, just edging ahead in the dying stages to take it out 38-37.

It was a dramatic finish to a drama-filled game, where neither side gave an inch from start to finish.

United just managed to get their noses in front early, leading 11-9 at the end of the first quarter, but College came out firing in the second, scoring the first three goals to lead 12-11.

United recovered and by half-time they’d restored their two-goal margin to be 23-21 up at the mid-point, but again College A came out all guns blazing in the third quarter and soon the two sides were locked at 26-all.

A late turnover gave United the slightest of edges again though, and by three-quarter time the margin was three, at 31-28.

With their season on the line, College A were determined to fight their way back, but United A weren’t going to lie down.

So started a final quarter which had the large, vocal crowd on the edges of their seats.

College drew level at 31-all, then United got out by three, before College came back to again level things up. With three minutes on the clock, it was anyone’s game, at 35-all.

With just over a minute to play, came the deciding moment.

College A nabbed a turnover and scored off it which put them one goal ahead, and from there they made the mature yet possibly slightly risky decision to just pass the ball around as the final minute ticked away.

It worked, and they held on for the win.

College A coach Kaye Kennedy said she was incredibly proud of her young side.

“I was really proud of the way the girls just managed to keep their cool in that last little bit when we were down, because there was a lot of crowd noise and it could have gone either way.

“We could’ve absolutely lost our heads and turned the ball over, but we didn’t,” Kennedy said.

After the excitement died down from that game, the two versus three semi-final then pitted the defending champions Celtic A against a Hampstead A side they’d lost to in the season’s third and final championship round.

While it wasn’t the best performance of the season by either side, with both struggling to turn possession into points at times, Celtic A held on to take it out 24-22 to secure the second spot in next Saturday’s final.

Celtic A coach Ange Leadley said it was a great team effort.

“It was good to step it up another notch and see some things that we have been practising definitely put out on the court, and I think that the determination of the girls really stood out for me,” Leadley said.

In the night’s other premier one match, Methven A’s disappointing season came to a close with their second loss to Mt Somers, 28-25, in the play-off for fifth.

Meanwhile, in the premier two semi-finals, top qualifiers Celtic B took on College B and came away with a 36-27 win. They will now go on to face Southern A in the premier two final, after the Southern girls came through to beat Methven B 35-22 in the other semi.

In the premier two play-off for fifth, Hampstead B just beat Celtic C 36-34.

Both games will be be played on an all-inclusive Mid Canterbury Netball finals day on Saturday August 24, as opposed to premier’s usual Thursday night.

By Erin Tasker © The Ashburton Guardian - 16 August 2019