The 2020 Deakin Sport Awards recognise top academic performance, but for three of this year’s winners that is but one aspect of their passionate commitment to their sports careers.
These award winning students are Jordyn Becker, Top Graduand in Bachelor of Business, Sport Management (sponsored by AFL), Alexandra Cole, winner of 2019 Best Student in MMS308 Sport Marketing (sponsored by AFL) and Michaela Petronio, winner of Netball Australia Prize for Best Strategic Marketing Plan in MMS308 Sport Marketing.
Jordyn came to university as a Deakin Scholarship for Excellence recipient. “Receiving this scholarship was a great honour and allowed me to concentrate on my studies and achieve results without financial pressures”, she says. Arriving from Tasmania, she appreciated the “great residential services which made it easier to move, get settled and be able to focus on my studies”.
The support freed her to contribute as a Deakin Residential Leader, which was recognised with a Student Experience Award for Leadership and led to “improved communication and interpersonal skills that will help me throughout my life and career”.
Jordyn found the course structure allowed her to test and apply her learning in real time. “Whilst completing my internship I was also completing Event Management and Sport Facility and Event Management units. By undertaking these units alongside my internship I was able to immediately implement the skills I was learning into the workplace. I was able to see firsthand how the elements I developed and considered for my assignments are implemented in the workforce, and not just in theory”.
After completing her course she started working full time as Competitions Coordinator at Netball Victoria, where her duties include coordinating the yearly Association Championships, Schools Championships and State Titles competitions.
She found herself well prepared for the demands of the role. “There are many stakeholders involved in these competitions, both internal and external. My course at Deakin enhanced my ability to work well with different people and teams and communicate to achieve a common goal.”
Jordyn credits the course’s industry exposure for her success, saying “I would not have received this opportunity if it weren’t for Deakin’s connection with Netball Victoria and being able to secure my internship with the organisation. “ It’s just part of what Deakin provides through “relevant course work and industry examples, as well as connections and pathways direct into the industry.”
“I’m lucky enough to have started to achieve some of my career goals by working in the sports industry, and be in a role which involves organising and delivering events and competitions for a sport that I love“.
Alexandra Cole is no stranger to recognition, as a repeat small business champion award nominee and as organiser of successful benefit events for bushfire relief and melanoma research, fulfilling “a mix of both personal and professional goals”, she says. “Although it’s not about recognition it is nice to get a little nudge to remind you that you’re doing it right”.
Doing it all well enough to receive such recognition is an achievement in itself, with so much on the go. Alexandra worked at Tennis Australia for the last five Australian Opens, also completing a full-summer internship there, as well as a sports marketing internship. All the while she has been running her own cheerleading and dance studio (acedance.org), with 12 coaches and 150 members on the books and achieving third place in the 2018 World Dance Championships.
Even so, she’s still on the lookout for “that illustrious dream graduate position.” For her, this would be based in a city like London or Dublin where dynamic tech and sports industries interact to create opportunities.
Deakin’s vibrant student life was instrumental in attracting Alexandra via BuSTCo the Deakin theatre company. “I had auditioned for a show as a non-student and was exposed to the Deakin lifestyle and everything this uni had to offer and I fell in love with it. Deakin has a great vibe and a fun atmosphere whilst also having a fantastic reputation for sport and sports management, I couldn’t pass that up.”
The course lived up to its reputation, “The course is great, well thought out and taught by some of the best. I have been given so much guidance and inspiration from my tutors and lecturers you’ll be supported the whole way through. Shout out to Dane Norton and Hunter Fujak. The support is unsurpassable”.
On top of all this, the award is just icing on the cake.
Michaela jokes about the sacrifice she made to complete her award-winning strategic marketing plan, “I put a lot of time, effort and research into the assignment, which was difficult seeing that I chose to do it on my least favourite football team!” But, more seriously, she says it was the best recognition she received throughout her studies.
She certainly didn’t joke around when it came to building professional experience across every aspect of sport management, interning as a strength and conditioning coach at Geelong Grammar (which led to a paid engagement at Caulfield Grammar), and as a Social Media Intern with Dynamic Sport Solutions. “Before that”, she says, “I completed a number of shorter volunteering/placement roles at sport centres, sport fields and aquatic centres”.
“I believed that the skills that I learned during these roles would prepare me for a similar full-time role within a school or university once I graduated.” Sure enough, Michaela has been able to secure great employment, “I’m already working in my dream entry-level role at the moment, employed as the Sales and Customer Experience Supervisor at La Trobe Sport Park Stadium.” She saw the position advertised just after she finished her final exams, “The role sparked my interest as it seemed to be right up my alley – experience, interest and education wise, and also would provide me with the opportunity to work at a brand-new state-of-the-art sporting facility.”
Michaela sees it as a great stepping stone to future roles, “as it is teaching me a number of relevant skills, allows me to build connections and is already within my desired industry.” And the destination? “My ultimate goal is to be the Head of Sport at either a school or university.” It is certainly well within reach.
For these three there is huge potential in the current moment, and each of them is well on the way to making the most of it. As Alexandra says, “It is a wonderful time within the sporting landscape where we are witnessing change, especially for women within the industry. The opportunities for women to be seen as equals and to be considered in a once male dominated industry has opened so many doors and opportunities I once thought were not available to me. It’s exciting.”