GHS Sports Awards Ceremony

Date: 02/10/2015

Written & Presented by: Ingrid Katz (Pure Aesthetics)

Event: Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School Sports Award

Good morning ladies, staff and guests, I feel very privileged to be able to speak to you all here today as you celebrate your sporting achievements at this incredible establishment, that is GHS.

I spent 5 irreplaceable years toiling on the sports fields and in the classrooms of this school and I wouldn’t change them for anything. In fact, I often feel like I could go back tomorrow....but alas, real life takes over when you leave these halls and for me it has been almost 20 years.

With the first breathe of life we are given a sense of touch and a sense of hearing. These qualities are embedded in our anatomy, yet when we learn to walk it is a gradual process that takes practice and guidance. Eventually we are able to refine this skill and the ability to run develops. Being at school is much the same. Whether you choose a path on the sports field, in the music room, library or at your desk, your ability to go from walking to running takes the same road – practice and guidance are needed. What better environment could you ask for, than GHS. I am sure you ladies have heard people say that you should appreciate this time in your lives; take time to enjoy the days spent learning, building lasting friendships, taking part on the sports fields and just being teenagers. As much as you may wish this time will pass so that “real” life can start.....we “real” lifers wish it all back! It is only when you leave school do you begin to appreciate all it has to offer and believe me, as cliché as it sounds, it is very true.

An establishment such as GHS has been spoken about for many generations and I am sure will continue to be spoken about for many more to come and so I urge you to embrace all it has to offer.

Sport has always been and will continue to be an important part of any students learning environment. For me, this learning has occurred in several areas such as developing friendships, learning team participation, learning the joy and triumph of winning and heartbreak in defeat, responsibility, perseverance and a will to fight. My education has been richer and more complete because of my participation in sports. At school, hockey was my forte and I loved it, every minute I got to be on the field with my team mates and opponents, many of whom I can still call friends today! But it is not always about winning or making the A team, or being the best, sometimes it is just about participating and soaking up the thrill of being able to take part. Trying something new and pushing your boundaries to experience something different. Where else would you be able to say you tried shot put or javelin, or played water polo, basketball or badminton. It’s here ladies’, right here in front of you. These amazing facilities, supporting coaches and most of all, team mates and friends are waiting for you.....Don’t let these opportunities pass you by, you may never see them again, and who knows, you may just find an extra mural activity that you love!

Life took an about turn for me during my 2nd year out of school. A car accident left me paralysed from the waist down and my life as I knew it and had planned for....changed dramatically and instantly. Many tears were shed, I was 19 at time and my world was upside down. I was at the end of my studies to be a skin care specialist and had one term left to complete my practical and written exams. While lying in a hospital bed for 2 months, you get to contemplate life, a lot. I decided at that time to complete my studies, I wrote my exams from hospital and the following year was able to complete my practical exams and qualify in the field that I am still, to this day, so passionate about. I have my own skin care business in Johannesburg, where I work closely with a Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon, and so am able to live my passion, everyday. Today, 18 years down the line, I cannot attribute just one aspect of my learning that got me here, but I can assure you that my will to fight and persevere certainly played a massive role. You see, I had to go back and start again. I had to practice and take guidance – for life, not just learning a sport or skill, but to get me motivated, confident and able to integrate into as normal a life as I could. My outlook changed, my abilities changed, my surroundings changed, but life was there before me, for the taking and I am still trying every day to take it, breathe it, live it.

I can’t climb a mountain, ride a bike, run a marathon, dance a tango or play a hockey match.....but I have learnt to replace those can’t’s with can’s. I CAN ride a horse, I CAN scuba dive & snorkel in an ocean, I CAN sail on a boat, I CAN ride a 4 wheeler motorbike, I CAN fly in a microlite, I CAN travel.... I CAN love and I CAN still live, continue to learn and most of all be happy that life still has so much to offer. This attitude of I CAN has probably been the one most important aspects of my accomplishments so far. Life is going to be full of can’ts, hurdles and nasty obstacles. I urge you all to think about what you CAN do rather than what you can’t.

After much absenteeism from any kind of competitive sports or in fact any sport, I decided to embark on swimming the Midmar Mile earlier this year. It was a gruelling process, right from joining a gym again, being comfortable getting into a large pool with so many swimmers around, to then actually being able to swim the distance. It took months of training, pushing myself to get into the pool day after day, finding my own rhythm and most of all getting myself mentally prepared. I felt like a young school girl again having to learn, take guidance and practice my chosen skill. Race day came and with it all the build-up, nerves, excitement and thrill of taking part, competing and of having worked so hard to achieve something finally reaching its fruition. The day went smoothly and the swim even better and I am proud to say I finished the race, in a decent time as well, and will be looking to hopefully better that time in 2016.
I knew I was never going to win that race or be the best disabled swimmer on the day, my goodness I was far from it; there was a gentleman with both legs amputated, who beat me by a good 10min! But I took part. I tried something new. I pushed so many personal boundaries. My perseverance and determination paid off.....even at the age of 36 I realised I CAN still do it!

Ladies, my wish is to leave you today with the hope that each and every one of you will be able to choose a path, on or off the sports field, grasp it with both hands and make it work for you....no matter the obstacles. Never be afraid. Your future is waiting for you and you only get once chance at it, use it and use it well. And most of all, remember you CAN do whatever you set your mind to.

Thank you

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