MEET THE STAFF - Part Eleven - The Sports Department
MEET THE SPORTS DEPARTMENT...
The current team consists of Natasha Panzera (Director of Sport), Nicky White (Assistant Director of Sport), Pierre Le Roux (Head of Water Polo) and James Buchanan (Head of Rowing). Although each member has a specific portfolio, they work together for many events and truly embody what team spirit is all about. The team works closely with Robin van Ginkel (Campus Director of Hockey) who also advises on other aspects of the Girls’ College sports programme. The team has worked together since 2015 and has achieved a great deal over the past few years. Working long hours during the week, on weekends and through holidays to keep the extremely busy sports programme running, the team keeps their heads above water by sharing the load and making sure that a sense a humour always prevails.
DIRECTOR OF SPORT - NATASHA PANZERA
Natasha Panzera obtained a BSc (Physiology and Genetics) and then went on to study a BCom Accounting through Unisa. She ran her own swimming school and sports academy from 1985-2007 and then took the position of Head of Sport at a local primary school until 2014 before joining St Stithians Girls’ College in January 2015 as the Assistant Director of Sport but became Director of Sport in September of the same year.
Natasha has been involved in a variety of sports on different levels but her main focus has always been swimming. Competing on a provincial level from the age of nine, she has captained and managed provincial nationals’ teams and provincial schools’ teams, holding many provincial swimming records over the years.
Natasha also holds numerous open water records and is a seven times winner of the Midmar Mile. She was selected to represent South Africa at the 1994 World Championships for the 25km open water swim. Natasha also coached the first South African school team to successfully cross the English Channel in 1996. She is an SSA accredited coach and has coached at many schools over the years.
Natasha has also participated in many other sporting disciplines receiving provincial colours in Life Saving (SA record holder), Biathlon (Junior Springbok colours), Triathlon (winner of many SA Team competitions), as well as playing 1st Team and district level Tennis, Hockey, Netball and Athletics while still at school. As a side-line, Natasha enjoys road running having completed many marathons and half marathons as well as the Two Oceans Marathon.
Natasha believes in producing well-rounded, balanced individuals who will be motivated and able to compete beyond their school years, thereby promoting and contributing to sport in South Africa.
ASSISTANT SPORTS DIRECTOR - NICKY WHITE
Nicky White grew up in the Eastern Cape and went to school in Queenstown. She was very involved in sport from an early age and represented her province, Border, for Netball and Athletics. At high school, Nicky played in the 1st Team Netball, 2nd Team Hockey and 1st Team Athletics. Nicky’s main sport was athletics and she was awarded school colours and honours for four consecutive years for Athletics.
Nicky studied Human Movement Science and Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (formerly known as University of Port Elizabeth). While studying in Port Elizabeth she played U21 Netball for her province, Eastern Province, for two years and then senior netball for her province for another two years. She was selected to attend Nationals Trials and made the development team and played against the touring New Zealand team. Nicky was awarded University colours for Netball.
Nicky’s second passion is teaching Geography and she is currently teaching Grade 8 geography. She loves being in the classroom and interacting with the girls in the classroom and encouraging them. Nicky is a firm believer in building positive relationships with the girls – both in the classroom and on the sports field.
Nicky is married to Brad White, a CSA Umpire and ex-professional cricket player. When she is not at school, she loves to bake biscuits and she loves reading historical romantic novels with a cup of tea and chocolate.
MIC - WATER POLO - PIERRE LE ROUX
Pierre le Roux started playing water polo at the age of 12 at St John’s College, where he finished his schooling. While at school he was selected for the South African Men’s Water Polo Team at age 16 and represented his country for the first time in 2003 at age 17, making him the youngest Springbok Water Polo Player ever. He has been a member of the National team ever since and to date is the most capped Water Polo player in South African history. His career of over 15 years playing, 9 years as captain and over 140 caps for his country, is another South African record.
Pierre obtained a BCom (Sports Management) and went on to complete his PCGE after which he completed a BCom (Psychology).
Pierre has coached water polo since he left school. From 2004 until 2009 he coached at St John’s College, winning numerous national titles across multiple age groups. He also played an integral part in the start-up of water polo at both Roedean School (SA) and St Mary’s (Waverley). Pierre then moved across to St Dunstan’s College, where he won the Co-Eds National Tournament with the Boys' 1st Team in his first year there as the Master in Charge of water polo.
While at St Dunstan’s College, Pierre was offered a professional contract to play water polo in France for NCA Angrien. He took the contract and moved to France for one season to play in St Jean d’Angely. On his return, Pierre worked and coached water polo down in Cape Town at Reddam House (Constantia) where he won one National title and one Western Province Championship. Whilst doing his part in the pool as a water polo player and a school coach, Pierre has also coached several provincial teams for Gauteng and is a qualified FINA Referee. He has won 4 silver medals to date for Gauteng as a provincial coach. He was selected as the South African U16A Girls’ Coach and continues to play for both his province and his country. In the short few years Pierre’s has coached water polo at St Stithians Girls’ College, he has won 14 Gold Medals, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze with the GC 1st Team. Those include 5 national titles.
Pierre’s other side is the real story – he loves his son and his wife who is expecting their second child in the spring of 2018. He is secretly hoping for triplets. He thrives in his working environment and is always quick with a joke with his colleagues. But it is his passion that surpasses all else and it is this passion that has added a whole new dimension to water polo at St Stithians Girls’ College.
MIC - ROWING - JAMES BUCHANAN
As a rowing coach with more than 8 years of coaching experience and almost 14 years of rowing under his belt. James Buchanan is just about to start his fifth season as Head Rowing Coach at St Stithians Girls’ College.
James has rowed and coached at school level, provincial level and for both the Junior and Senior South African Rowing Squad. He rowed in the St Albans 1st Quad in 2009 and 2010, winning the Junior Men’s 1st Quad title for both years. In 2010 he was selected for the Junior National Rowing Squad which competed at the Junior World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic in the junior men’s pair. He started his coaching career at the end of that year, starting at the bottom teaching new Grade 7 boys how to row. In 2012 James made the U23 National Rowing Squad where he competed at the U23 World Rowing Championships in Lithuania in the lightweight men’s double event.
In 2013 James was selected to coach the U17 Boys Quad in for the SASRU Development squad which toured to Ghent in Belgium where they placed 2nd at the Belgian Rowing Championships. In 2014 he coached the U16 Boys Quad in the same event where they also won silver out of 36 crews. Based on these results, James was asked to coach the Junior Men’s (U18) Quad in the 2014 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
It was also in 2014 that James started coaching at St Stithians Girls’ College. Learning to work with girls was a new experience which James excelled at. The highlight of his first season was winning bronze in the Junior Women’s 1st Quad event at the 2015 South African Schools Championships.
In 2016 James was selected to coach the senior men’s coxed pair at the senior world champs in Rotterdam in the Netherlands where he got to work closely with the 2016 Olympic training squad and learnt a great deal in the process.
James is currently studying towards a teaching degree majoring in History. He has achieved excellent results so far. He has also attained a hockey coaching qualification and currently helps out in the Girls’ Prep with coaching, as well as managing the Girls’ College 2nd Hockey Team.
James continues to work to find new and innovative ways to grow and run the St Stithians Girls’ Rowing Club and to make it inclusive, fun and enjoyable while still helping girls to achieve their personal and club goals.