Pulling up stumps: Former Black Caps coach retires as Chch school principal

Denis Aberhart with the new entrants class. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Denis Aberhart with the new entrants class. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Former Black Caps coach Denis Aberhart is stepping down from an educational career spanning nearly 50 years.

Pupils and staff at Our Lady of Victories School in Upper Riccarton will farewell their principal at an assembly on July 8.

From classroom to cricket pitch, his process for success has been the same.

“You want your school to run, so you put your team together accordingly, and then you put a team together to deliver on that,” Aberhart said.

“Coaching is about providing the environment, culture and resources so that people can be the best that they can be.

“I actually think that we’re coaches rather than teachers.”

Denis Aberhart will step down as principal of Lady of Victories School next week. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Denis Aberhart will step down as principal of Lady of Victories School next week. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Aberhart, 68, began teaching in 1975, but took a three-year break from his educational career between 2001 and 2003 to coach the Black Caps.

He enjoyed both careers but thought he made the bigger impact in the classroom, he said.

As a principal, he said he was helping shape the future of his pupils and society.

“The role that a principal does is far more important than the role a sports coach does.”

Pupils played cricket and other sports at Our Lady of Victories, Aberhart said.

“Sports is a good healthy activity for kids to be involved in. It teaches great life skills.”

He highlighted teamwork and sportsmanship as valuable skills the pupils learned.

Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming with coach Denis Aberhart during a practice session....
Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming with coach Denis Aberhart during a practice session. Photo: Getty Images
Aged 21, he first began teaching because he felt it was a career suited to his personality.

“I enjoyed the people side of things, I felt that it was a skill that I had. “I enjoyed school. I had good teachers, so it’s something I thought I’d like to do.”

In 1983, he began his first job as principal at St Joseph’s School in Lyttelton.

It was a small school and he was still a teacher as well as principal.

From there, he became principal at the old St Paul’s School in Dallington, then Our Lady of Fatima School in Mairehau, before taking on his current role in 2015.

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