School sports

Schools: Coach's talk does trick for St Hilda's

St Hilda's Sean Lee Jian Hao, 16, smashing the ball past Dunman High's Zhang Zhenhao, 15, in the boys' B Division final. St Hilda's won 25-17, 25-15 for their 16th volleyball title in 21 years.
St Hilda's Sean Lee Jian Hao, 16, smashing the ball past Dunman High's Zhang Zhenhao, 15, in the boys' B Division final. St Hilda's won 25-17, 25-15 for their 16th volleyball title in 21 years.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Call it a woman's intuition or the result of years of experience, but St Hilda's Secondary School's volleyball coach Teo Siew Lan knew something was wrong after last week's narrow semi-final win over Bukit Panjang Government High School.

She distributed printed handouts on dealing with negative emotions to her players and got the reaction she hoped for yesterday as they produced a dominant performance in the Schools National B Division boys' final to beat Dunman Secondary 25-17, 25-15.

St Hilda's captain Tristan Ang, 17, said: "We had a lot of negative feelings whenever we lost points, so we reflected and calmed ourselves down in this game."

It was also their 16th title in 21 years - all under Teo's guidance - and a testament to her judgment. The 57 year-old, who majored in athletics counselling for her master's degree, spends hours reading on how athletes can improve both mentally and physically.

She said: "I realised that you need to encourage them, scold them, break them down and build them up again.

"It gets really difficult as the boys grow up. They start having problems with their attitudes because of their personal struggles."

Setter Jireh Tay, 16, was a prime example of Teo's skill. The Secondary 4 student was initially resistant to Teo's coaching methods. He said: "I had to change my attitude towards learning. My coach has more experience than me so I had to be humble and follow instructions."

In the girls' tournament, also held at Woodlands Sports Hall, defending champions Jurong Secondary School beat Presbyterian High School 25-6, 25-21 in a repeat of last year's final.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'Coach's talk does trick for St Hilda's'. Print Edition | Subscribe