The Hāwea Honeys, a 13-girl squad of Jump Jam athletes took gold at the South Island championships last weekend — a huge feat for a tiny rural school. If the North Island doesn’t score higher points this weekend, then the NZ title will go to Hāwea Flat School.
“Secretly, I was worried that these girls from a small country-school would be overshadowed by their big-city ‘sisters’ from Christchurch and Dunedin, but in the end they blew everyone away and were outstanding,” said proud dad, Ross Sinclair.
The Jump Jam aerobic program is a ‘Kidz Aerobix’ resource kit for schools, created by two-time World Aerobic Champion Brett Fairweather, specifically for primary and intermediate students and teachers. Designed to challenge fundamental movement skills, increase fitness, develop student leadership and motivate students to move and enjoy exercise. The programme has been adopted by over 90 percent of New Zealand primary schools.
Not only did the girls from Hāwea Flat School gain first place in the Jump Jam National Competition for the South Island, the team also gained another award in technical execution. This particular recognition was quite impressive, since they were the only ones to get excellence in this field.
Because the girls demonstrated to be supportive towards each other and their competitors, they also took another award for their exemplary conduct. “As a parent, I was mostly pleased that the team won the Fair Play award. This was chosen by the volunteers working backstage with the teams, awarded for the teams showing best support and encouragement for other teams. In the end, it was the ultimate team effort. They worked incredibly hard together, took things really seriously, and loved it. On stage they looked like they were having a great time. The prize itself was more of a bonus,” said Tania Brett, mother of Rāhana.
The small contingent of Hāwea Flat parents was the most vocal in the crowd. “That’s also the Hāwea way! The Hāwea Honeys put on an outstanding Jump Jam performance. Their high energy, confidence, teamwork and technical dance moves stood out on the day!" said Brett. "When they announced third place, I thought we had no hope in a placing as I thought we would come third or below. I was really shocked when we came first," commented Rāhana.
“I like Lenni being part of Jump Jam, because it combines lots of her favourite things, such as music, dance, exercise, costumes and having fun with her friends. We're really proud of the girls for the amount of effort and practice they have put in and their commitment to each other. They have put in heaps of hard work,” said Leah Miller, Lenni’s mother.
Credit to the coach
“The girls are all still fizzing about the win, so it's been a pretty epic few days” said Symone Craig, the Hāwea Honeys’ coach.
Craig has worked with this group of girls all year long and decided to have a go at qualifying for Nationals. “First of all it really is the girls who have put in all the hard work and they deserved the win for sure. But I am sure all the other teams put in as much effort.
Craig has coached other teams before, but only at a regional level so for the nationals she enlisted deputy principal Dana Smith to help, as Smith had taken teams to Nationals in the past and to compete strongly there required choreography and formation changes.
“To be honest it was quite a big deal to even qualify, as lots of teams missed out and they took only nine teams from across the South Island to compete in the division. There were really hard days, when there were other things that they would rather do but they were the ones who chose to do it. I held the expectation that they were part of a team and when you commit to a team it's really important that you turn up to practises. To me, that is what part of being in a team is: commitment and perseverance.”
Despite her humility, one parent said that the coaching made up much of the victory. “The main reason this little group of girls stood out among the others was probably how well they had been coached,” said Ross Sinclair, father of Vesper and Itzia Sinclair, who were both in Jump Jam.
“The commitment of the coaches, who are also full time teachers at the school, was incredible. The extra hours Simone and her assistant coach Dana Smith put in was above and beyond,” said Sinclair. Both kids and parents felt incredibly lucky to have teachers who put this much effort into making kids’ time at school so rounded and fulfilling.