Netball players from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) are to face their toughest test yet this season when they play against England’s best school teams next week.
Three teams from GSAL have won through to the finals of the England Netball National Schools Competition, at Roedean School in Brighton on 19 March. Only two other schools will compete in all possible age groups. GSAL’s U14, U16 and U19 teams all earned their places in the finals as Yorkshire and Humber regional champions.
For the U14s, who range in age from year 7 to year 9, it will be their first experience of a national final. However they can draw confidence from their smooth route to the final – in the two qualifying rounds they were undefeated in all 14 matches. Players from the local area include Claudia Stead (Kirkby Overblow), Nicole Dilasser and Sasha Bletcher (Harrogate), Abi Kempley (High Birstwith) and Lucy Harrison (Linton).
The U16s, including Lucy Burgin (Pannal) and Beth Johnson (Scarcroft), also enjoyed a clean sweep of matches on the way to the national final.
The U19 team, who are sponsored by Michael Lewin Solicitors, will be hoping to repeat the success they enjoyed two years ago as U16 national champions. It was the second time GSAL had won the U16 title, having previously won in 2012, and the team will need to draw on all their experience as they face the top teams in the country in their bid to lift another trophy.
The U19s face another national final when they travel to Essex on 11 March to play Portsmouth Grammar School in the Independent Schools National Cup. GSAL has an impressive record in this competition, last winning the U19 title in 2014.
The U19 team captain is Lucy Stead (Kirkby Overblow) and members include Lauren Gaunt (Thorner), Megan Black (Hampsthwaite) and Ellie Sowerby (Harrogate).
Cath Johnson is head of netball at GSAL. She said:
The girls’ commitment and focus in training set them apart and lead to continued success at GSAL. Talent is of course part of it but the work ethic is essential and our girls have it.
This is why they continue to succeed not only in school netball but also in Superleague and the England pathway while still at school and after they leave.