21 February 2017
What do Olympic medallist swimmer Taylor McKeown, Melbourne Storm Under 20 player Beau Fermor and surf ironwoman champion Jordan Mercer have in common?
They are all enrolled in degrees at USC, which tomorrow (Wednesday 22 February) launches a program to help students combine high performance sport with higher education to achieve overall life success.
Tomorrow’s launch of the USC High Performance Student Athlete Program will include Rio silver medallist Taylor McKeown talking about what life is really like when balancing tertiary studies with training and competition at an elite level.
Taylor, Beau and Jordan will be among 35 top athletes across 18 sports attending the event, including Paralympic swim squad members, wheelchair basketballers Steve Elliot and Hannah Dodd, powerlifter Samantha Thomasson and U19 open water swimmer Jack Brazier.
USC Director of High Performance Sport Professor Brendan Burkett said the program recognised that student athletes performing at national and international levels needed specific support and services to gain the most from their USC studies while striving to achieve in their sport.
“This is about USC honing its efforts to provide the best possible study experience to ensure students reach their career and personal goals,” said Professor Burkett, who has competed in swimming and advised in sport science at Paralympic Games over two decades.
“A growing number of elite athletes, coaches and sporting organisations are realising the importance of ‘dual career education’ and are pursuing sport and study concurrently.
“In 2008, 40 percent of the Australian Olympic team that went to Beijing were university students, and in Rio in 2016, more than half of the team were studying. This trend is likely to continue.
“Life as a high performance student athlete can be challenging. It’s not easy finding a healthy balance between sporting commitments of up to 30 hours a week and the pressures of studying a degree.”
Professor Burkett said the program would include the services of USC Sport Clinic experts in strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, injury prevention and functional testing; use of USC sport and fitness facilities; tailored professional development programs; advice and advocacy; access to wellbeing services such as counselling; scholarships and financial assistance.
Professor Burkett will speak at the launch at 9.50am, following a welcome from USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill. Taylor McKeown will join a panel session from 10am that includes a Queensland Academy of Sport representative.
Professor Burkett also will discuss the burgeoning high performance sport opportunities across the region at the SportsCoast Conference, organised by USC and the Sunshine Coast Council, to be held on Friday 3 March at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium. The event will be open to the public.
For details on USC’s High Performance Student Athlete Program contact Coordinator Tania Stevenson on 5430 1210.
— Julie Schomberg