12 January 2018
The University of the Sunshine Coast is giving high-achieving student athletes a new sporting chance in the form of five SportSmart Scholarships.
These scholarships, worth $5,000 each, are available for first-year students who are eligible for the High Performance Student Athlete (HPSA) program that last year attracted students like Lightning goal shooter Caitlin Bassett and champion swimmer Taylor McKeown.
Applications for these scholarships for Semester 1, 2018, are open until 26 January.
HPSA program director Professor Brendan Burkett said the scholarships would build on USC’s growing reputation for offering a holistic experience to students, from athletics to academia.
“USC is fast becoming a national leader in high-performance sport but a broad focus on the full student experience can make a real impact,” Professor Burkett said.
“It’s not just about access to world-class training facilities, but a range of other services such as academic support, sport psychology and media training,” he said.
“We have swimmers from the Swimming Australia team here, the Lightning netball team and the Australian Cycling Academy and over 25 different sports.
“Students are studying alongside like-minded athletes who are also facing the stresses of training and making a team, so peer support is a great component. That is why we have introduced a student athlete lounge, where student athletes can naturally gravitate to someone with whom they connect.”
Professor Burkett is a former Paralympian who would have appreciated a similar program while he was studying.
High performance on the sports field often translates to high performance in the classroom, and vice versa, he said.
“Confidence builds confidence, and if students have an understanding of time management, goal setting and meeting deadlines from their sport, these are lifelong skills.
“We are setting people up so they can reach their potential in their sport but also have a life after sport.
“Our athletes are achieving 10 percent higher on their GPA than non-athlete students on average, so that is a real tribute to them and we just want to support others to do the same.”
The number of students in USC HPSA Program is expected to reach 100 this year.
The program offers access to USC’s nationally-accredited facilities including the gymnasium, indoor sports stadium, Olympic-standard swimming pool, International Association of Athletics Federations-standard athletics track, outdoor hard courts and playing fields.
It also offers access to mentors and academic and career planning support, workshops by sport industry specialists and access to training for media interviews, entrepreneurship, time management, nutrition, recovery, peaking, sports psychology, skill acquisition, biomechanics, drug and alcohol education, and securing sponsorship.
- Janelle Kirkland