St Mary's College crowned national champions
"AND the national champions are . . . St Mary's College.''
The winning words were appreciated and celebrated as St Mary's won the FISAF National Sports Aerobics Championships at Chandler Theatre.
The College's remarkable success last Saturday capped a wonderful journey to becoming the best in the country.
The winning team featured Rebekah Ahrens, Lara Bell, Edyn Hutchinson, Elouise McDonald, Alexa Murrin, Regan Pike, Mackenzie Smith, Keira Smith and Kate Sotiriadis.
Sports aerobics has been long established in the Health & Physical Education curriculum within the Health Sciences department at the College.
The talent, achievement levels and enjoyment of the students that participate in the curriculum element made College staff reflect on whether this could be an option adopted within the sports department.
After an initial investigation early in the year, 2016 Alumni Emily Heuer was approached about whether she would be interested in using her dance background to learn and coach the College's first Sports Aerobics team.
With guidance and support from the governing body FISAF, and Sports aerobics club Industrie1 (30km away), Heuer quickly learnt the steps and rules to teach St Mary's first cohort of girls.
Initially, the group of 10 girls was dropped to nine with the unfortunate injury to year nine student Lucie Kinnane.
The group of girls engaged in training once a week on a Tuesday morning.
St Mary's entered their first competition in May, which was an Industrie1 event at Lourdes Hill College.
"In a totally unique and unexpectedly vibrant, loud and entertaining environment the girls took the stage to win their first competition,'' St Mary's College sport co-ordinator Glenn Carpenter said.
"Their performance at the time drew special mention from the judges and organisers who were suitably impressed.''
Carpenter said the College thought that would be the end of the season due to the team's unavailability for the state championships in June.
That was until FISAF contacted St Mary's to make a video submission for consideration for entry into the national championships.
This proved to be successful with the girls being informed on the last day of Term Two.
Upon returning to Term Three, further training was put on hold as most of the girls were committed to the SMC Cultural Department's musical production of 'Hairspray'.
"So the girls had effectively two weeks of preparation for these national championships,'' Carpenter said.
However, with a number of the talented students having dance backgrounds, St Mary's put their attention to detail, posture, sharp lines and dynamic performance expressions to good use.
Their guidance came under St Mary's dance program coordinated by Courtney Crack and various dance schools and teachers in the greater Ipswich community.
Finally at the national championships, the St Mary's girls competed in the repecharge rounds (effectively a sem-final) in order to reach the final.
After a tense wait, the college team was named winners in the semi-final, having to compete in the national final that afternoon.
"Under Emily's expert guidance, attention to detail and overall demeanor with the girls, she was able to generate another level of high quality performance that blew everyone away in the auditorium,'' Carpenter said.
"Over the period of the day, the girls beat competition from 11 other teams.''
Carpenter said the judges took time after the final to tell the team how impressed they were with the girls.
"Considering this was our first time attempting sports aerobics competitively, they are very excited about what we could possibly achieve,'' Carpenter said, thanking Emily Heuer and the parents and families who supported the girls.