Growing up, I loved two things: animals and sport. From as young as I could remember, I always wanted to be a vet. Vet science was my first preference at University, but when I didn’t get accepted I decided to study sport science.
A double degree, Honours and PhD later, sport science has turned out to be an exciting, rewarding and challenging career. Currently I have a joint role as a Sport Scientist with the Western Bulldogs and as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL). In my role I supervise students on a variety of projects, as part of a research partnership between the Western Bulldogs and Victoria University. Being a scientist and an academic my days are really varied. On any typical day I can have meetings with PhD students, analyse AFL match performance data for the coaches, write research papers for publications and coordinate students who are helping the Head Strength Coach with AFL players in the gym.
Many people don’t realise that maths and data are critical in sport. Maths is everywhere, from scoring differentials, to in-game statistics and even deciding how much fluid an athlete should consume after training, based on how much weight they lost during the session. Knowing how to analyse and communicate data is pivotal for those wishing to work in the industry.
Maths wasn’t my strongest subject at school, but I am so glad I stuck with it and studied maths in year 12. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to have the career I have today. Some of my colleagues now work for elite sports around the world, including the Seattle Sounders, British Cycling and Victorian Institute of Sport. My advice to students wanting to work in the sports industry is don’t underestimate how much data plays a role in the industry. Sticking with Maths through to Year 12 and maybe even through uni can take you to some amazing places. In five years’ time I would love to be working to help Australia win more gold medals at the Olympics!