Coach returns to Schools Cup for 36th year
The largest participation event on the Volleyball Australia calendar, the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup is currently taking place on the Gold Coast in Queensland, with day four delivering action aplenty.
Currently in its 39th year, the Schools Cup is the largest school-based sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting teams from across Australia and New Zealand.
It is likely that no one knows the event quite like Heathfield Year 9 Honours Boys coach Stuart Scott, who has returned to the event in 2023 for his 36th year.
“Last year was meant to be my final year but the program is so big – there’s 23 teams – and they needed a couple more managers about 10 weeks ago, so when they called, I agreed,” said Scott.
“Last week, Rory Welch, the ex-national player who had been coaching them all year and doing a magnificent job, got an urgent call from work and found out he couldn’t come anymore, so as of last Tuesday, I’m back at the Schools Cup as a coach.”
Scott credits Welch with the togetherness and skill of the team, stating that the ex-Volleyroo has helped the team become more focused on the game while also encouraging them to have fun and enjoy the moment.
“The boys are fighting hard and having fun,” said Scott. “The only real aim for me as a coach who’s just jumped in is to make sure that they’re enjoying what they’re doing, that they’re feeling relaxed and that there’s minimal pressure on them.
“We’re trying to get them to focus on just playing the next point, which is a bit clichéd but that’s just what you have to do.”
When asked what inspires him to come back to the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup, Scott wholeheartedly admits that seeing the kids get so much enjoyment out of the event is a major factor.
“Year after year the kids get back from the Schools Cup and they’re already planning for the next year, and it doesn’t matter if they’re from a little country school in Renmark where I spent 26 years or at a bigger school like Heathfield,” he said.
“I’ve taken all year levels to various degrees of success, but the kids all come away thinking that it is such a great week.”
Captain of the team, Marlon Columbus says the boys are so grateful to both Welch and Scott for their time and commitment.
“It’s great fun to be here with the team, we’re all great mates and we love each other and play well together,” Columbus began. “Volleyball is a team sport and we play as a team – we don’t play as individuals – so everything we do we do for each other, our coaches and our school.
“We’ve been coached by Rory all year which has been great, we’ve learned a lot from him because he’s obviously a very skilled player that has a lot of experience in volleyball and life.
“It’s amazing now to have him [Stuart] here with us because anything he says you really just understand and take on board because he’s been doing it a lot longer than we’ve been alive, so anything he says goes really.
“We’re going for gold this week, but if not, we’re really gunning for a medal. We know we can do it, we’re confident in each other’s ability and have great trust in one another.”
The Year 9 Honours Boys team from Heathfield is currently sitting in second place in Pool B, with their final pool game tomorrow set to determine overall standings leading into finals.
To learn more about the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup and follow along with the results, visit the event website.