AS the modern generation test themselves at the 15th National All Girls Sport and Cultural Festival, they are continuing a long history of sport at Collegiate, going back to, at least, the beginning of the last century.
The history of sport at the school is well chronicled in JJ Redgrave’s book The Collegiate School for Girls, Port Elizabeth, 1874-1974.
Sport has developed in countless aspects from the games of the early 1900s, exemplified in the current festival at Collegiate, which started in 2000 with hockey and netball, but now covers 10 sporting and cultural disciplines.
Collegiate have produced many national representatives over the years, but things also started quietly with the first hockey match being played in 1900 between the boarders and the day pupils.
For the record, the boarders won and then walloped their rivals in the return match 10-0.
In those days, games were purely optional and included croquet, cricket, basketball and tennis. In tennis, they served underarm, and the girls played cricket against their Grey High School counterparts.
Still, there was recognition for those who excelled. In June 1901, a fountain pen and a pen-knife were presented to the two girls who had won the largest number of events in the school, while a hockey stick was presented to Lily Nash, who had been voted the best player by the Games Club.
As time moved on, Collegiate were well represented in the field of sport and tennis, hockey, swimming and cricket were all played.
Swimming was held in the summer season, although the current pupils will be thankful for their new aquatics centre, considering what their predecessors had to endure.
Swimming, then, took place in the municipal salt-water bath situated near the Dom Pedro jetty. The Port Elizabeth Ladies’ Swimming Club was founded and held its first gala in about 1910. Many Collegiate girls took part and soon the school pupils excelled at the sport, something which has been maintained to the modern day.
In the 1930s, tennis became very popular and the school’s courts were situated in St George’s Park. Exciting matches were played between Collegiate and Grey.
More then 20 years later, sport was in full cry and when the new school was built in Parson’s Hill (foundation stone laid in 1964, occupied in 1966) it had its own sports grounds – two hockey fields and two netball courts and 12 all-weather tennis courts.
Collegiate has had many pupils representing EP and SA, with some reaching the international stage such as twins Lynette and Yvonne Vermaak, who won the Appletiser Bowl competition and national tennis championship held in Stellenbosch two years in a row.
Yvonne went on to become a professional player, while Lynette developed into on of SA’s leading hockey players.
Other Collegiate old girls who made their names in sport up until the 70s include former head girl Joy Maree who became a Springbok golfer. Anne Shaw won Springbok athletics colours for the sprint events at the Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Cardiff, Wales.
Edna Friedman was a member of the EP sprint relay side which broke the SA record and won the title for province.
Wendy Burrell broke five SA swimming records during her swimming career in both senior and junior events and Lily Davidson won a South African swimming title. Phillipa Hulett became a top surfer, and has been followed by Faye Zoetmulder, who has excelled on the international surfing circuit.
More recently, sportswomen such as Jen Wilson (SA hockey), Olympian Jessica Roux and Jessica Liss (swimming) have continued Collegiate’s proud sporting tradition. – Neale Emslie