Alison Wieringa (Wills)
1975 to 1979
Alison was a great all-rounder. She arrived at Matamata College from Walton and soon made a mark in the classroom and on the sports field. Sport was a high priority in the “Wills” family with all kids (and parents) reaching the “top” in whatever they participated in. It was interesting that Alison’s first netball team was “3rds Red”. This team seemed to win all their association games (easily), many against teams that would have been considered “better”! It wasn’t long before the team selectors realised that this “Alison Wills” was the reason that 3rds Red were being so successful. Naturally she loved the success, as did that team, (I think they beat 3rds B that year) but it only took one year for her to be elevated to 4ths A and then quickly into College A. Alison was a very skilful GA – in fact, she was successful in whatever position she found herself in. As we will read further on, success in netball didn’t finish at Matamata College.
Alison believes she made the most of the sporting opportunities throughout school years representing the school at tennis, athletics, swimming and netball. Alison was the senior tennis champion on more than one occasion, as well as enjoying success at Thames Valley and Waikato level. Having a tennis court at home and a brother as the only competition (Grant Wills – profiled) who hit the ball really hard, made her strong – girls tennis bored her a bit! Alison, as well as playing netball in College A for three years, played representative netball at Under 18 level and locally for the Matamata A Rep team.
Alison held the school high jump record for many years – it took Casey Williams to surpass the record and it may currently be held by her niece Kelsie Wills!
She participated in the school band and was Deputy Head Girl and then Head Girl in 1979 when Shirley Hooper went on AFS to America. Alison was very capable academically but claims the classroom wasn’t her forte. However she did gain UE and HSC. On leaving school, Alison went to Wellington and attended the Central Institute of Technology to complete a three year diploma in Occupational Therapy. During her time in Wellington, she played netball for both the Wellington Under 21 side and the Wellington team.
On graduating as an Occupational Therapist in 1983, Alison moved to Auckland to start a career in health, based at Auckland Hospital and then moved to become Charge Occupational Therapist at the Sutherland Unit in Pt Chevalier.
Netball continued to be a huge part of her life. She went on to represent Auckland throughout the 1980’s. Auckland’s reign as NZ champions started in 1986 and Alison was part of that era. Yvonne Willering was the coach and they managed to ‘blitz’ Canterbury, Wellington and Waikato, much to the surprise of those teams and many spectators. She remembers many happy days on the netball court playing for Auckland. Alison was then selected in the New Zealand Young International Netball team which toured Canada also under the coaching of Yvonne Willering. Following a New Zealand trial in 1986, Alison was selected as a reserve for the Silver Ferns.
In 1986 Alison married Jelte Wieringa and then moved to Tauranga in 1989 and soon after welcomed two children – Zoe (born in 1993) and Neco (born in 1995).
In 1990 she moved out of health industry, into the sporting field, taking on a role with Sport Bay of Plenty managing programmes for the region and a national programme to encourage women to participate more fully in sport. At the same time she took up netball coaching roles in the Bay of Plenty, and then moved into the role of Waikato Netball Coach, followed by The Northern Force Coach and Waikato/BOP Magic Coach.
In 2000 the family undertook an adventurous move to Wales. Here Alison had a new challenge with the Welsh Netball Association as their National Performance Director. Working with Raewyn Henry (Sir Graham’s wife) who was the Welsh National Coach, the role was to support both netball development within Wales plus the high performance area which saw a full focus on the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester followed by 2003 World Games in Jamaica.
On returning to New Zealand Alison took on the role of New Zealand A National Netball Coach and National Selector from 2004–2006, working alongside the Silver Ferns coaches and players.
More recently the roles have come back to supporting daughter Zoe within the Secondary Schools environment, having coached the Tauranga Girls College Netball team through until 2011.
The sports enthusiasm continues with the family, as daughter Zoe has played in the Tauranga Girls College top League One netball team since she was a year 10 student, and she was also part of the winning Tauranga Girls College Volleyball team which won the National Secondary Schools volleyball title two years running. Something that Zoe has enjoyed has been competing against her cousin – Kelsie Wills.
Son Neco previously played volleyball for Tauranga Boys College and continues to compete for the school on the football field. Neco enjoys the academic challenges Tauranga Boys College has to offer with some outstanding results over the past few years.
Husband Jelte works with the NZ Police Force as a Serious Crimes Analyst. He also worked in this role within the Welsh Police Force in the UK. He enjoys the challenge that golf brings and sits on a single figure handicap. He has previously competed at a top level in both football as a school boy in Auckland and also tennis through 1980’s.
Alison is now managing the Enliven Service for Presbyterian Support Northern in Tauranga, covering the BOP region. They provide home based restorative support for older people who choose to stay living in their own homes, and need staff to visit them in order to support them with their personal and household needs.
Alison’s summing up of Matamata College was that it was an amazing school – it gave students opportunities to challenge themselves in a range of fields and leadership roles. For her family, sister Judith has gone on to become Deputy Principal at Tokoroa North Primary School, and brother Grant is managing the home farm, is on the Fonterra Board and is still making a name for himself in the tennis arena. Their parents – Audrey and Derek Wills have retired to the sunny Mt Maunganui. Alison enjoys reading about the many ex-students and teachers who have achieved in a diverse range of occupations since leaving school and she feels proud to have been part of this school and the community.