Water polo wonder, Mrs Cathy Parkes


Mrs Cathy Parkes

Mrs Parkes (left) wearing her Order of Australia Medal, with Tracy Menzies, 2004

Mrs Parkes became Danebank’s PD/H/PE Coordinator in 1988 and was responsible for more than a decade of remarkable growth and development in Danebank sports. Her amazing energy and commitment resulted in a massive diversification of sporting programmes with the introduction of new sports for the school. Mrs Parkes’ personal enthusiasm and drive was infectious and led to many students striving for their best and reaching remarkable levels of achievement. Mrs Parkes came to Danebank after a career playing water polo, including at international level representing Australia.

In 1988, Danebank’s sporting programmes included Swimming, Softball, Netball, Athletics and Tennis. Within ten years, Basketball, Cricket, Cross Country, Gymnastics, Hockey, Minkey and Water Polo had been added to the list. The new PD/H/PE course was introduced for HSC study and Programmes such as the Elite Sportswomen Programme were in operation. This led to amazing successes for students who represented at state and national levels and one student, Alicia Terry-Whitall, became an Australian representative in Water Polo. Alicia Captained the National Under 20s team that was undefeated in a European Tour in 1998. Alicia later accepted a professional contract to play Water Polo for the Rari Nantes Club in Florence, Italy.

Mrs Parkes had a vision for Danebank that included the establishment of fine sporting facilities. She described the facilities in 1988 as ‘cosy’ and greatly in need of updating. Firstly, the school’s pool, referred to as the ‘bird bath’, was replaced by a new Aquatic Centre in 2000. The new centre was officially opened in the year of the Sydney Olympic Games. Within a very short time of the opening, Mrs Parkes offered the centre to the US Men’s Water Polo team who trained in the centre in the lead up to the Games. Mrs Parkes’ vision also included a new School Gymnasium and this dream was realized in 2006.

Mrs Parkes’ personal drive was severely tested when she contracted Breast Cancer which she fought for a number of years until her death in 2007. Her energy, drive and commitment, her keen mind and faithful heart, were greatly admired by all who knew her. Danebank remembers Mrs Cathy Parkes through an annual Swimathon which raises funds for the McGrath Foundation.



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