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Never Give Up

This week’s Year 12 Assembly speech comes from Water Polo Captain, Courtney, who talks about resilience and how to deal with failure in a positive way.

Each week, our Student Leaders share their insights with their peers in Assembly.


When I was in Year 6, I was encouraged to join a rugby team with some friends. In Year 6 I wasn’t very tall, and you couldn’t see my hands out of my blazer sleeves.

We started with some training sessions, and it felt like I could actually play this sport. That was until the season opener, a gala day competition. This day would represent the first few games I would play. The first game started. I was on the field, and had strategically placed myself on the wing, hoping I wouldn’t get the ball. That was until, to my surprise, the ball was passed across to me, and, out of nowhere, a girl twice my height came running at me and tackled me off the sideline. I didn’t go sideways, no. First, I went up off the ground, and was launched through the air until I crashed into everyone’s parents. That game was the first and final rugby game I would play.

Looking back, I ask myself, “What happened?” Something didn’t go the way I thought it would. Something happened that I wasn’t prepared for and, instead of going on with my rugby career, I stopped playing.

Through the years, I have come to realise that not everything goes as planned. You might not win every sporting game and you might not get the mark you worked hard for in an exam. When something doesn’t go the way we expect, we fall into a mindset that tells us we aren’t good enough, and sometimes we feel the need to give up.

However, I’ve learnt that we need to change this mindset, to ask ourselves, “What’s next?” and, “How can I improve?”

We need to accept defeat, but don’t let that defeat you. Instead, let it be fuel to strive for better. I now know that it is what happens after defeat that we need to remember, not the moments of defeat themselves.

Failure can teach you that trying once doesn't mean you'll never achieve the success you're striving for. If you can identify the steps that led to your failure and why you had the results you did, a strategy can be formed for future success. This is something that I’ve learnt in Science. Whenever you do an experiment, you have to do three trials in order to make sure the test is reliable. This applies to what I’m trying to emphasise today. How are we going to judge our outcomes from one test? We shouldn’t. Give it another go, and the results might say otherwise, but you will never know unless you try.

This year, I decided to try AFL, a game that I felt had a similarity to rugby. I rocked up to trials, turned to the person next to me and asked, “What do I do if someone tackles me to the ground?” I received a reply saying, “No, no, AFL is more like a hug, you’ll be fine.” Trials went by, and the first game approached. Now, I don’t what type of AFL my peer had been playing, and I don’t know what happened to this 'hug', but, once again, I was tackled straight to the ground. Déjà vu. However, this time, I turned up for the next game, and the games after that.

Although I was reliving the nerves of my Year 6 self, I now realise that playing AFL has been such a highlight for Year 12. This made me wonder how much fun I could have had playing rugby if I had given it another chance.

The movie, Rocky, addresses this theme perfectly, and I wanted to finish with the following message as we come into end-of-term exams, music performances or important sports games. “Life. It isn’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Celebrate the defeats, the mishaps, and the letdowns, to then elevate yourself to keep going, try again and never give up.