I had the privilege of presenting to a large turnout from the School community at a High Performance Sport information evening held earlier this week at Westminster. I have been encouraged by the large number of parents and students in attendance who personally expressed their keen interest in our sport program at Westminster.

While this article summarises my High Performance Sport presentation, I am excited to be able to make two important announcements today that reflect exactly what we are setting out to achieve through our new High Performance Sport program. Our High Performance First XVIII Coach for football is Ian Cox and our High Performance Open A/B Netball Coach is Leigh Waddington. Both Ian and Leigh are outstanding leaders in their sport. There are brief bios below which will confirm the breadth and depth of their considerable experience. I have no doubt they are the right people to take our students and make them the best they can be within their sport. I was able to inform the senior football and netball students today and, judging by their reactions, I can see that great relationships will be formed as we set out to achieve the excellence we all want in our team performances.   

I’m trusting my commitment to Westminster, this position and our students is coming through loud and clear. Working at a great school like Westminster combines the two things I am passionate about - sport and education and I can see the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead as we rejuvenate our sport program at Westminster. Although I have had a long association with Westminster as a past staff member and parent, I commenced my new position as Head of Sport Development and High Performance in Term 4 and have appreciated the support from students, families and my School colleagues as together we build Westminster’s reputation as an exceptional school for sport.

While I invite you to watch my presentation (see link below), I have summarised the main points for this article:

The Sport Program

My vision for sport at Westminster is to ensure every Westminster student, staff member and parent’s involvement in school sport is positive, exciting and gainful.
There are two arms to the program, which will be integrated from Reception to Year 12 across all sports:
  • Development, accounting for 90% of students who play for fun, fitness, school spirit and to be the best they can be;
  • High Performance, accounting for 10% of students who want to take it to the next level and are looking for a program with extra commitment and elements to optimise their chances to work towards elite level.
I highlight here the ‘School v Club’ challenge. Our program at School must be equal to or better than what is offered at club level. If it can’t be at competition level, then it must be with the program and acceleration rate. We will work with each student-athlete to get a best practice hybrid for a dual-program commitment where potential  clashes exist.

High Performance

To be a truly High Performing Program, we recognise there are three main components:
  • the program content and design (15%)
  • the quality of the coaching and management team (15%)
  • the players (70%), in our case the students
What do High Performance behaviours look like?
  • accepting that every team in the School needs a High Performing culture, irrespective of the level of competition;
  • expecting every student to be in correct attire, punctual, 100% attendance, show intensity in all training sessions and fixtures, look sharp in the warm-ups and play and conduct themselves in the ‘Westminster Style’;
  • aiming to exceed High Performance benchmarks in everything we do, both on and off the field;
  • expanding and galvanising community and stakeholder relationships by forming strategic partnerships with new and existing stakeholder groups;
  • achieving ‘best practice’ process in everything we do: staff appointments, logistics, on-field play.

What’s Underway?

  • a survey to be emailed shortly to parents, staff/coaches and students, asking for their valued opinions about sport at Westminster;
  • a review of all programs, processes and personnel to ensure we have the best fit;
  • preparing  pilot winter sport programs; this will focus on Netball and Football for our next winter season;  these will be true high performance programs and the models will be tested, evaluated and amended to best practice then transposed across all of our programs 
  • establishment of a High Performance Group, leading to individual tailoring and load/wellbeing support for our students in intensive Daily Training Environments at State/SASI or national levels;
  • strategic partnership meetings: with local sporting clubs who are pro-active in supporting Independent school students with a dual commitment, injury management, sports psychology, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, universities (including USA College Scholarships) etc;
  • an Expression of Interest process for best practice recruitment of quality coaches and team management staff, internally and externally;
  • piloting of new technologies: an app for optimal efficiency on off-field logistics is being negotiated to trial in 2016 (HP teams); Virtual Coaching Tool due for release in 2016 that will enable a higher and more holistic level of coaching is available for Westminster to pilot in 2016.

Our Parents’ Role

A truly high performing culture at Westminster involves a tripartite arrangement where students, coaches/staff and parents are all working in synergy to a set of expectations with energy and enthusiasm.
We would love parent support in the areas of:
  • uniform – 100% correct at all trainings and games is the aim!
  • attendance – 100% attendance at all training sessions and fixtures is expected and will take priority over holidays or family occasions in term time (the exception will be those HP students in dual-commitment programs eg if it clashes with a State training);
  • communication – point of contact is clear (most of the time this will be with your child’s coach);
  • encouragement and support – we would love parents to encourage their children’s commitment in completing individual strength and conditioning sessions, attending HP Group meetings, scoring, timing or helping the coach/ team manager with set up tasks.


During the information evening, I was asked some excellent questions, some I share here with you:

Q: Do we cater for students with a disability in our sports programs?

A: Yes we do, we have had some great success with students in underpinning Paralympic program activities and we will modify all of our sports so that each and every student can participate.

Q: What about students who are just outside the State representation level who would also benefit from the activities that the High Performance group will be involved in?

A: We are looking to have a virtual coaching tool so that all of our holistic sport program services such as strength and conditioning, nutrition, load management and sport psych can be accessed by all Westminster sport students – this will be available for pilot in 2016.

Q: Will there be any structures in place for Talent ID?

A: At present we will continue to rely on our PE Teachers, who deliver a wide range of sports, to identify prowess in students who are in their classes. They will both encourage the student to participate further in this sport as well as pass the ‘talent identification’ onto our sport coordinators. We aim to investigate formal Talent ID testing at a later stage in the implementation process.

The High Performance Sport information evening presentation by Jane Woodlands-Thompson in the Murray Centre, Monday 30 November, can be viewed through this link (running time approx. 50 minutes): https://vimeo.com/147528591

Announced Thursday 3 December 2015, we are pleased to welcome to Westminster our new High Performance Winter Sport Coaches for 2016…

High Performance First XVIII Football Coach

Our new High Performance Football Coach for 2016 is Ian Cox.

Ian has an outstanding background as a football coach, having coached Glenelg U18s and being named as the SANFL Junior Coach of the Year in 2009.

Other career highlights include:

  • Four Premierships as a Coach, including Glenelg Under 18s in the first year of the SANFL Under 18 Competition; seven players were drafted to the AFL in his two years with the Juniors at Glenelg including Seb Tape (’10).
  • Level 2 Coach, assisting with coordinating and mentoring junior coaches at Brighton Football Club to ensure they are organised and have the skills and capacities to teach young players; coached Brighton Football Club to its first A Grade Premiership in 11 years and helped to lay the foundation for the Clubs’ future successes;  coached Brighton High School Year 9s to become State Champions.
  • Three years as the Senior Assistant Coach at the Glenelg Football Club with Mark Mickan and Kris Massie (in one of the SANFL League Games this year, Glenelg fielded 13 players in the League Side who Ian had coached through the Under 17s and Under 18s, including Andrew Bradley (’09) who is now the League Captain).
  • Life Member of the Brighton Football Club this year for my services as both a Player and Coach, and acknowledged as both a player and coach of the 25th Anniversary Team for the Brighton Football Club (1991-2015).

Ian is absolutely set to take on this exciting challenge:

My strongest passion in coaching is unreservedly with junior development. The opportunity to work with Jane, who I regard as the best coach in Australia and who could easily coach in the senior capacity at both the AFL and SANFL levels, is also one of the major factors why I want to be part of the new Westminster Football program. I am also fortunate in having been a CEO for the past 12 years in the not-for-profit sector. In my capacity as a CEO, I have learnt a range of leadership skills which will also enhance the development of the many young men at Westminster. This year I was nominated in the South Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero Category) for my services and contribution as a leader to both Hutt St Centre and the not-for-profit community. Westminster is an outstanding School and I am committed to making Westminster’s football program an outstanding success story.

On hearing the news of Ian’s appointment, past School Captain and Gold Coast Suns player Seb Tape (’10) said:

This is a fantastic appointment for the Westminster football and sports program in general. Ian Cox was one of my first coaches at the Glenelg Football Club and was a great mentor of mine. Ian is extremely passionate and brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to his role. It will be an incredibly exciting period for the football program and I encourage players to embrace the challenges, and I look forward to hearing of the success that lies ahead!

High Performance Open A/B Netball Coach

Our new High Performance Netball Coach for 2016 is former Thunderbirds player and Vice Captain, Leigh Waddington.

Leigh has played netball since the age of four and has been honoured by representing the Adelaide Thunderbirds as a contracted player for 2007, 2013-2015 and as a replacement player for 2012. Leigh has played in Premier League Netball since 2003 and represented South Australia in the Australian Netball League in 2011 and 2012. Recognised as an elite level player, Leigh is no stranger to coaching, having been a coach from 15 year of age and steadily building her credentials to include high performing Gawler Centrals Div 1s and Adelaide Cougars Inter 1 team for two summer seasons.

While her extensive playing and training commitments have restricted her ability to coach in recent years, Leigh has still found time to be a specialist coach and trainer in:

  • Henley High School Netball Program (2013-2015)
  • netball clinics as an Australia Post One Netball Ambassador (2015)
  • Adelaide Thunderbirds and Netball SA Netball clinics (2013-2015)
  • elite player development with former Thunderbirds team mate, Erin Bell’s Netball Clinics (2014-2015)

Leigh has also taken on the role of Tango Netball Club’s High Performance Coach since July 2015, which includes planning and facilitating the Winter and Summer Academies. Since retiring from the ANZ Championships, Leigh has been able to spend more time on gaining qualifications as a netball coach as well as building on her extensive qualifications in areas of fitness, strength and conditioning.

Leigh sees her new Westminster role as a perfect fit:

This role is the perfect opportunity to link all of my skills and passions together to continue to support developing netballers of the future. I am also very passionate about teaching fitness and leadership skills.  Since my playing commitments have now been minimised, I am looking forward to once again being a head coach of a team and being able to help a team from start to finish.  I have been very lucky to have some amazing coaches who I have learnt so much from and observed their delivery at trainings and on game day. I have gained lots of knowledge and thoroughly enjoy passing this on to others. Being head netball coach at Westminster will enable me to share my knowledge and experience with the many keen and emerging netballers I know Westminster has.