10 Mar 2022
When Mountain Creek State High School captain and competitive Sunshine Coast cricketer Tom Longhurst learned he could study a university course in Year 11 last year, the choice was easy.
Of more than 70 first-year courses offered through the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Headstart program for senior high school students, one stood out: Introduction to Coaching Science.
“I chose Headstart because I wanted to challenge myself, to see how I could adapt to a university style of learning,” said the 17-year-old high achiever who was last month named Mooloolaba Lions Club’s Youth of the Year.
“I chose Introduction to Coaching Science because I really love cricket – I’ve been playing since 2014 – and that’s one way I can have a career centred around my sport.”
Headstart gives Year 11 and 12 students a real university experience as they study first-year courses and gain credit towards a USC degree. The first course is free.
Parents and school children can join an online session about the program on Tuesday 22 March from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Register at Headstart Information Evening on USC’s website.
While Tom studied about half of last year’s classes online because of COVID-19 restrictions, he also made the most of his visits to the Sippy Downs campus, enjoying practical coaching skills lessons at the USC Stadium and using resources from the library.
“It was fun to be around the campus,” he said. “Rocking up the first day was a bit nerve-wracking, but as soon as I started a conversation with someone, I realised no one knew I was a high school student and even when they did, they were really nice.
“It was good to compare my expectations of university work and schoolwork. I had a lot of uncertainty about what uni was like, but I found the study achievable.
“And the course was interesting. We did an analysis of body measurements, to see what sports best suited people’s biology. I didn’t get cricket, though. I got AFL!”
Last year, Tom also received a school academic award and a high distinction in the Australian Mathematics Competition in 2021.
This year, he is focused on achieving a high ATAR to study engineering in 2023. And, of course, playing lots of cricket.
“I’d love to play for Australia one day, get my baggy green cap,” he said. “Short-term, I want to head to England next year to try playing a season of cricket there.”
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