Representing Hawke's Bay in softball is a costly exercise ... just ask Emma Houkamau and her whanau.
By the end of the summer the Napier Girls' High School 15-year-old will have spent $1500 on fees alone associated with representing Bay, her club and school teams at national tournaments. She and three other Bay representatives, Ashlyn Obers, TayaLee Halbert and Jacob Mita, Houkamau, received an appropriate early Christmas gift last night when they became recipients of Rob Guildford Memorial Trust scholarships.
The recipients, who were recognised for their ability to push on from provincial to national level, each had $300 to spend on new softball gear at Rebel Sport's Napier store. The scholarships are presented in memory of Rob Guildford, the father of Hawke's Bay Magpie and All Black winger Zac Guildford. Mr Guildford died of a heart attack shortly after watching his son score two tries as New Zealand beat England 44-28 in the final of the 2009 Under-20 World Cup.
With Zac still on pre-season training duties with the Crusaders in Christchurch, his mother Deb presented the scholarships and told the softballers dreams can come true.
"If you have the right head, the right heart and can make the right decisions your dreams will come true," she said.
Junior White Sox training squad member Houkamau, 16-year-old Taikura Rudolf Steiner School student Obers and 17-year-old Hastings' Girls High School student Halbert played for the Hawke's Bay senior women at the National Fastpitch Championship in North Harbour earlier this month. All three will play for Hawke's Bay at the national under-19 girls tournament in Hastings next month.
Obers and Houkamau are both two-time national champions and three-time Central Region champions and are eager to help their Hawke's Bay under-17 side retain their national title in Auckland next month. Halbert is a big fan of former Hawke's Bay representative, United States-based former Junior White Sox captain and pitcher, Rita Hokianga. Obers looks up to the Bay's former White Sox infielder Angela Stubbs because of the knowledge she passes on.
Houkamau is also a fan of Stubbs as well as the Bay's White Sox catcher Melanie Gettins.
Napier Boys' High School student Mita, 16, was unable to attend last night's function but with national under-17 and under-19 tournaments to attend next month he, like the other recipients, will put the scholarship to good use.
Donations to the trust can be sent to: The Rob Guildford Memorial Trust, Private Bag 6018, Hawke's Bay Mail Centre, Napier 4142