The University of New England launched their new Sports Academy last Friday with 14 athletes inducted as part of the program.
The new initiative follows on from the success the university has had in allowing athletes to access tertiary education while pursuing their sporting endeavours. The Academy will continue the tradition in developing athletes both on and off the field. Director of UNE Life, David Schmude, said the university had been aiming to establish an Academy for a long time.
“So many athletes want to combine their sport with flexibility around their education and one of the things UNE does well is offer that flexibility,” he said.
“The students come to UNE to get an education but they also now, in today's world, have aspirations to take their sport to a higher level and that really hasn't changed for many years.”
Former Sydney Swans strength and conditioning coach Matt Pine will work with the Academy athletes during their university careers. The university will also provide academic support for the athletes.
“Those sort of students who can come through and we will support them through strength and conditioning and off-field leadership development and combine that with their sporting stuff,” Schmude said.
“There are so many skills you develop on the sporting field that are transferable to life and work - teamwork, communication skills, conflict management -all those skills are really important.
“The Academy will also teach some great soft skills, those sort of things that you may not learn within a classroom.”
Former UNE student and Australian cricketer Erin Osborne was on hand for the launch and praised the university’s efforts for helping her complete a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology.
“It was fantastic to have Erin there, Australian cricketer, past UNE student and Tamworth girl from the region and she has achieved a huge amount,” Schmude said.
“For her to speak so highly of UNE and her life of cricket was quite inspiring for our students and we had quite a large contingent of staff there who listened to that and feel very proud about it.”
The 14 athletes who were chosen from around 40 applicants come from a variety of sporting backgrounds including mainstream sports including rugby union and soccer through to waterskiing and polocrosse.
“The good thing about the Academy is we have identified the athletes as opposed to the sports. All these people aren't your mainstream sports, it is about the student, about the athlete and that is what we want to develop,” Schmude said.
Athletes: Karina Brown-Athletics, Abigail Doolan-Hockey, Zac Hocking-Netball, Katrina Rekunow-Hockey, Lucy Christie-Waterskiing, David Eldridge-Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Emma Kennedy-Athletics, Sam Finlayson-Polocrosse, Teagan Miller-Rugby Sevens, Elizabeth Harrison-Soccer, Drew Walsh-Rugby Union, Josh Marks-Football / Athletics, Maddison Fryer-Rugby Sevens, Tenayah Woodward-Rugby Sevens