Students at St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Albion Park will now have the chance to train next to first-class athletes at the top of their game – the likes of Matildas star Caitlin Foord, UFC champion Alex Volkanovski, and the Illawarra Hawks. The school’s Aspiring/Elite Athlete Program will see students enjoy state-of-the-art facilities, resources, mentoring and support to be the best-equipped young athletes in the region.
The exciting new program is aimed at providing aspiring athletes at St Joseph’s with the education, skills and support they need to reach their full potential – in their chosen sport, their academic studies and their life and career ahead.
Run in partnership with the BaiMed Performance Centre and team, it offers a positive and holistic approach to the development of these dedicated student athletes – be it in individual sports like gymnastics, dance or athletics, or a team sport such as soccer, netball or football.
Principal, Amanda Wilson, officially launched the program to students and parents at a whole-school assembly last week and said the program aims to nurture the whole student, helping create “viable future pathways” for athletes in both their sporting and academic lives.
“St Joseph’s is a comprehensive school providing pathways for all students in all areas of endeavour. Sport is one of the areas that allow children to flourish – and through this program, we aim to provide our students with the opportunities and resources to develop into educated athletes who achieve to the best of their potential in their sport and in their studies” — Amanda Wilson, principal, St Joseph’s Albion Park
“In the last 18 months, I’ve seen a lot of young men and women who absolutely love their sport and are passionate about what they do – but they are doing it to the exclusion of anything else. We are here to offer a way to balance sport pathways with academic success – to help ‘future-proof’ our students so they have as many options as possible.”
“I remember an Olympian visiting our school to talk to us about success. He said, ‘I had a whole team behind me that helped me get to this point. It was 20% raw talent, 60% hard work and perseverance, and 20% the people who supported me, helped me and all the opportunities I was given along the way’. Our program is focused on that last 20% – to support our students in their endeavours and help them get to the next step”
— Amanda Wilson, principal, St Joseph’s Albion Park
Ms Wilson told the students gathered the program was about a “commitment to aspiring to do your best. What you can learn in this program will take you further in school and in life: skills around goal-setting, leadership, communication, teamwork, and a healthy competitive drive.”
“The program also aims to foster a good sense of sportsmanship, commitment and respect for self and others, while developing resilience and perseverance, a positive mindset and strength of body, mind and character,” she said.
“Students will take part in sessions with various professionals to provide valuable support in their growth and development – especially important through their teenage years. Mentors will be appointed to liaise with each student regarding their wellbeing, academic support and help balancing their time between their sport, schoolwork, extra-curriculars and other out-of-school commitments.”
BaiMed Managing Partner, Mick Baines, also attended the launch to present their part in this innovative collaboration with St Joseph’s – including offering students a full day every term participating in the centre’s specialised Long-Term Athlete Development Program.
“This is a really exciting program and opportunity. We’re opening up all our facilities at our brand new performance centre for Joey’s; the students will have absolute access to every resource BaiMed offers, which we’ve never done before. We’ll give these aspiring athletes the full service, as we would offer a UFC world champion or star NRL player” — Mick Baines, BaiMed Performance
“We’ll take the successful applicants in and test their physical capacity, strength, flexibility; do a physiotherapy screening, etc – the same testing platforms as the Hawks and Dragons. We’ll record how they are, their volume of training... and give a snapshot back to them and their parents, and help them set and reach performance goals,” Mr Baines explained.
“It is so important to build a resilient athlete [so we’ll look at]: strength and conditioning; fitness capacity; musculoskeletal and injury prevention work; performance psychology; and special education modules around long-term athlete development.
“There are so many benefits to resistance training and strength conditioning, especially in adolescents. Around 50% of overuse injuries from sport can be removed with proper preparation, including strength training, so this will definitely be a focus too.”
“I’m really proud of St Joseph’s for coming up with this program. To my knowledge, outside the big schools in Sydney, this kind of program hasn’t been tackled. It’s really opening up endless opportunities for these students – not just for aspiring athletes, but for a career in sport, which is another exciting thing” — Mick Baines, BaiMed Performance
Mr Baines said BaiMed’s sport-specific experience and evidence-based approach provided proven results. “We’ll take the students out of their comfort zone a little bit to help them, set them up on the right path and put the right foundations in place… it’s all about having an appropriate program for what your body can do.
“It’s time to get everyone strong, fit, well and happy!”
Ms Wilson thanked Mr Baines for this significant partnership benefiting Joey’s students, adding that fortnightly individual and group mentoring sessions with teachers, coaches and members of the BaiMed team will greatly assist in students’ ongoing effective participation and successful results.
“Collaborative engagement with parents, coaches, the professionals from BaiMed and other stakeholders will be an essential part of each students’ success in the program,” she said.
Ms Wilson said there will also be a critical 'give back' element for students participating in the program. “Most successful athletes are those who 'give back' to others in some way, through foundations or support of the development of younger players. This is not a monetary 'give back', but rather a contribution of their time. Students involved in the program will negotiate and carry out a 'give back' component as part of their commitment.”
The program runs annually, from Term 3 to Term 3. Interested applicants can read the program prospectus here and download the application form here. The inaugural year’s nominations are now open, and close at 4pm on Friday 23 August 2019.
For more information regarding the program, please send the team at St Joseph’s an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the school office on (02) 4230 8500.