18 June 2018

My reflection in this edition of the Thistle has a strong sporting theme given the events of the last fortnight.

When one reads the History of Scotch 'Building a Tradition' (1897-1996), there are many people, events and activities reflected upon and celebrated. When the next history of Scotch is recorded there will be many new stories of achievement and challenges; Saturday 21 March 2015 will be one of those duly recorded when for the first time in 25 Years, Scotch College won the Head of the River race which is the premier Rowing event.

What is more amazing and important to remember is that Saturday's victory should be viewed within a greater historical context. While it may seem hard to comprehend, the thinking and challenges faced in 1910 and the strategic thinking employed to achieve success in the 2015 Regatta are very similar. Jane Gregory captures this in the following extract:

From 1910 considerable attention was paid to improving training conditions for Scotch crews. Plans were made to erect a rowing shed in Freshwater Bay near the Osborne steps so that it would be easier for the boys to get to training and so that the college would no longer have to rely on the goodwill of the WA Rowing Club. Eights were introduced into the schools competition in 1912, and in that year a rowing camp was held. For ten days at Easter, the Scotch crews camped in tents upstream from Canning Bridge, so that they could adjust to their new boats, and in the following year Scotch won the Head of the River.

There is some great symmetry to the above story. Firstly, the College has developed concept plans to extend our current facilities in order to meet the growth in the programme and will work closely with the Goland Club to achieve this outcome. Secondly, in 2014 the Rowing club sought support from the College to assist them in the purchase of a rowing telemetry and instrumentation system to provide better analysis of each rower. This appeared a logical decision and as such the Boat Club moved into a new era of strategy in 2015 and won the Head of the River race. Having said this, facilities and technology will never deliver success without the commitment and passion of the individuals who comprise the Boat Shed.

1st VIII 1990

I witnessed the crew at training on Thursday 12 March only two weeks before the Head of the River. I was singularly impressed by the boys' self-analysis of the training session and the way they held each other accountable for what in their eyes was an average row over the two kilometre training course. Furthermore, I believe we must never underestimate the role of Scotch's Second VIII in our 2015 success. These boys provided a challenge to the 1st VIII each and every time they were on the water.

1st VIII

Harry Sinclair, Ruan Greyling, Harry Ayers, Jonathan Ashby, Robert Packer, Daniel Wee, Lachlan Gibson, Chase Deitner and James Fox-Slater.

Please note: This photo was generously supplied free of charge by The West Australian for a one off use and cannot be reused or copied without their permission. For those interested this photo and the corresponding article can be found at: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/sport/a/26747953/scotch-the-toast-of-the-river/

Well done to everyone involved in the Rowing programme especially every boy, coach and parent who played their part in getting every boy and crew to perform at their personal best. In particular to Mr Grant Ford our Master in Charge of Rowing, Bill Hutton the 1st VIII coach and all of the parent support group lead by Mother of Captain of Boats, Jenny Sinclair and Mother of Vice Captain of Boats, Genevieve Cleary.

I would also like to acknowledge and congratulate the College's PSA Swimming team, coaches and parents for the outstanding effort on Thursday 12 March. While we finished sixth the most important statistic is that 91 boys achieved a personal best time in the swimming meet. This is an outstanding result as one of the five things we include in our College goals is for boys to aspire to personal excellence.

As this term draws to a rapid close I would like to return to an academic focus. The concept of personal best also applies to each and every time a boy steps into their class or works on an assessment. This pertains to all of our sub-schools. It is the culmination of working towards one's personal best that produces outcomes we may never have thought possible. Sheryl Sandberg the author of "Lean In" captures the important role of self in the following quote:

We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.

Have a great fortnight

Dr Alec O'Connell