Kate van Heerden Clarendon

It’s 76 caps and counting for Clarendon High’s Kate van Heerden as she prepares for the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge at Stirling in East London on May 14.

The Grade 12’s passion for the sport shines through as she looks back on her three-year journey with the first team and her midfield-services will no doubt come in handy in the regional tournament.

Van Heerden has been living her dream on the pitch since 2020 and attributes much of her personal growth to her Clarendon hockey family.

“From my primary school days I wanted to be part of the first team,” she confessed.

“There is really no sisterhood like it. It has shaped me into the person I am today and I’m thankful that I’ve been privileged enough to be a part of it.”

She believes sport teaches life lessons unlike any you can learn in a classroom almost every time you step onto the pitch, especially when playing alongside motivated, hard-working individuals.

“They inspire me to do my best. My hope is that the players continue to inspire each other for years to come.”

Ironically, the 18-year-old, who these days excels as both an attacking and defensive centre, quit the game as a little girl.

Kate van Heerden Clarendon

Long-serving Kate van Heerden will aim to make an impact when Clarendon compete in the East London Coastal leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge at Stirling in East London on May 14. Photo: Supplied

“I didn’t like wearing the bibs they gave us so I quit,” she laughed. “But that changed at about the age of seven when I went to Clarendon Primary and I just fell in love with the sport.”

The versatile sportswoman is also a top-notch tennis player and, inevitably, had to choose between codes.

“It was not easy to make those choices but hockey had my heart. I found the camaraderie and friendships on tours were unmatched by the other sports.

“One of my dislikes is running, but when I realised that I was prepared to do it just for the sake of getting fit for hockey, I understood the passion I had for the game.”

Now she and her teammates are dialling in to the East London Coastal leg of the SPAR Hockey Challenge, where the 20-minute matches equate to non-stop pressure.

“We just have to take a breath. We know what we need to do; stick to the plan, play without fear and for the person next to you,” said Van Heerden.

“The tournament is definitely one of the highlights of my season. It’s all about the effort that is made, the music, the countdowns before games and that pounding heartbeat when you get a shorty.”

The teams are:

Pool A: Clarendon, Stirling, Merrifield, John Bisseker and Lilyfontein

Pool B: Hudson Park, Cambridge, Grens and Greenpoint Secondary