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Juggling study and sport pays off for Massey students

Juggling study and sport pays off for Massey students

More than 350 people attended the annual Blues Awards this week, held at Massey’s Manawatū and Auckland campuses, to honour top student athletes.

The annual awards now in their 27th year, celebrate students who excel both academically and in their chosen sports and included some of New Zealand’s top sportsmen and women.

Bachelor of Business student and member of the Black Stick’s hockey side Tessa Jopp was awarded Auckland Sportswoman of the Year. The 22-year-old represented New Zealand at the Junior World Cup in Chile last year, and was named New Zealand U21 player of the year in 2016.

She was blown away by the win. “It’s pretty special to be recognised for all your hard work. It shows that it does really pay off to be committed to uni and sport, so it’s nice to see it all work out together, and be worth it. I have such a good support system. Everyone wants you to do well in sports and study, my coaches understand, and Massey has been so flexible, it’s great.”

Jopp, a self-confessed farm girl from Maniototo in Otago, hopes to graduate next year, with the aim of taking her marketing degree into a role in the primary sector. She is also aiming to represent New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Netballer Maia Wilson was presented with the Manawatū Sportswoman of the Year. The 20-year-old Bachelor of Communication student, plays for the Auckland-based Northern Stars, but lives in Wellington. Wilson is part of the Silver Fern squad travelling to Melbourne to contest the Fast5 World Series next week.

Bachelor of Construction student Aaron Booth was awarded Auckland Sportsman of the Year, for athletics. Earlier this year, he competed at the Australian National Championships and placed third in decathlon. He was also selected to compete at the 2017 World University Games in Taiwan, and was the only New Zealander to medal at the games, winning bronze.

The 21-year-old former Mt Albert Grammar School student was honoured to be considered for the award, amongst so many talented athletes. “When you look at the nominees, and see Olympians and the like, I never thought I would really be at that point, and so to win, is pretty awesome.”
He says it is not always easy juggling sport and study, but it is important to have life after sport. “While I’m young, I’m trying to put as much time into athletics as possible, and decathlon takes up a lot of time, so being able to study part time, really helps.”

Booth hopes to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and is aiming for the World Championships in 2019 and then the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Manawatū Sportsman of the Year was awarded to judoka Finn Brown. The 19-year-old black belt is studying a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours. Brown, originally from Whanganui, earned selection for the New Zealand Junior Men’s Under 73kg spot for the Oceania Judo Championships in April of this year, and went on to represent New Zealand at the Oceanians in Tonga. He won the bronze medal in the Junior Men's U73kg division and silver in the Senior Men's Division.

Brown was surprised to be awarded one of the top accolades. “I’m really grateful to Massey for recognising the hard work I put into my training. The support Massey has given me through their physio and cooperation for my overseas ventures has made managing my life so much easier. I plan to continue progressing with my judo until I finish my degree in 2020, before I fully dedicate my life to full time training for the commonwealth games in 2022. I'll be taking as many opportunities as I can to progress onto the world stage alongside my studies.”

Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championship Track Cycling medallist Simon van Velthooven, who is currently completing his Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, via distance, was the guest speaker at the Auckland event.

Known for his explosive speed and long sprint, the 28-year-old from Manawatū was recruited by Emirates Team New Zealand to provide the power that allowed the catamaran to be so competitive in Bermuda and ultimately bring the America’s Cup home to Auckland.

He spoke about his experience of being part of Emirates Team New Zealand. “I probably learnt more about boat building than actual sailing in the team, but it was a pretty cool experience knowing that you were part of testing it initially, building the whole system, controlling the system, and then delivering on race day in Bermuda, to win the America’s Cup for New Zealand.”

He commended the student athletes for juggling their passion with study. “Well done to you all. I am living your life as well. I started my degree ten years ago. I’m surprised I’m not getting a Blues award tonight, maybe next year,” he joked.

Olympic rower Grace Prendergast was named Distance Sportswoman of the Year, but wasn’t present to accept her award. Prendergast, The Master of Business Studies student maintains excellent grades, alongside her numerous sporting achievements. This year, she was selected in the women’s coxless pair with Kerri Gowler, and they went on to become world champions at the 2017 World Rowing Championships, held in Florida, United States, last month.

Cory Taylor was awarded Distance Sportsman of the Year, for his outstanding efforts in surf life saving. Taylor, who now lives and competes on Australia’s Gold Coast, wasn’t present to accept his award. He is studying a Bachelor of Business, majoring in management. At the New Zealand Life Saving Nationals held in Christchurch in March, Taylor was first in the Open Male Ironman and Ski races. This double title is a rare achievement, made even more impressive as the finals were just 30 minutes apart.

Olympic gold medallist para-swimmer Mary Fisher spoke at the Manawatū awards. After finishing her studies, she attended the evening as speaker rather than a recipient.

She spoke about her life as a student athlete and what it felt like to win gold.
“I am very thankful to all the people at Massey who helped me get to where I am. I don’t think I would’ve achieved what I did in swimming without study. I tend to be an overthinker and study gave me a way to balance that out and put it into something useful.

“Winning gold in London was an amazing feeling, kind of like a degree, like anything big in your life. You work slowly away at something and you are kind of stunned when you get there – such a mixture of emotions,” she said.

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas attended the Manawatū awards, and said, “These awards celebrate student athletes who excel in their chosen sport while also achieving excellent academic results as well, which is no small feat.”

2017 Massey Blues Awards Recipients:

Aerobic Gymnastics: Hannah Wilton; Archery: Emily Cavell, Ryan Dittert, Hannah Hawley, Elizabeth Randle; Athletics: Aaron Booth, Natalie Booth, Quin Hartley, Hamish Kerr , Ben Langton Burnell, Niam Macdonald-Joslin, Hannah Philpot, Matthew Taylor, Pavinee Watson; Badminton: Anona Pak; Basketball: Deena Franklin; Canoe Slalom: Haylee Dangen, Luuka Jones; Canoe Sprint: Danielle Watson; Cricket: Ma’ara Ave, Michael Bracewell, Cameron Fletcher, Melissa Hansen, Alice Little, Felix Murray, Hannah Rowe, Jessica Watkin; Cycling: Grace Anderson, Rushlee Buchanan, Lauren Ellis, Kirstie Klingenberg, Stephanie McKenzie, Deborah Paine; Duathlon: Christian Davey; Equestrian: Lauren Alexander, Sophie Alexander, Emily Fraser, Abigail Long, Georgia Massie, Melody Matheson; Fencing: Stephanie Wyllie; Football: Isabella Coombes, Emma Kete, Erin Nayler, Aimee Phillips, Mikayla Wieblitz; Futsal: Aimee Phillips; Hockey: Johanna Avery, Robbie Capizzi, Robert Creffier, Sean Crook, Michaela Curtis, Benji Edwards, Tayla Hansen, Tessa Jopp, Sanjay Lala, Mick Lammers, Alice Little, Clodagh McCullough, Pippa Norman, Mitchell Ottow, Hayden Phillips, Ella Poole-Crowe, Jean-Pierre Rossouw, Kelsey Smith, Madeleine Williamson; Indoor Cricket: Melissa Hansen, Jessica Watkin; Judo: Finn Brown; Mountain Biking: Samuel Shaw, Samara Sheppard; Netball: Brooke Leaver, Erikana Pedersen, Maia Wilson; Para-cycling Pilot: Cameron Karwowski; Para-swimming: Mary Fisher; Rackleton: Sion Wiggin; Rowing:Taryn Abel, Hannah Bailey, Nicola Baker, Tom Clyma, Toby Cunliffe-Steel, Anna DeLong, Brooke Donoghue, Hugo Elworthy, Nathan Flannery, James Hunter, Zoe McBride, Amy Mills, Hugh Pawson, Georgia Perry, Grace Prendergast, Lucy Spoors, Ruby Tew, Phillip Wilson; Rugby: Tim Cadwallader, Sam Malcolm, Jamie Mackintosh, Hamish Paterson, Robin Praat; Rugby Sevens: Hamish Paterson, Tayla Reti; Skiing: Janina Kuzma; Speed Skating: Lotte Kaars; Squash: Ben Calvert, Sion Wiggin; Surf Life Saving: Benjamin Cochrane, Jessica Miller, Cory Taylor, Andrew Trembath; Swimming: Kelsi Boocock, Jacob Garrod, Joshua McCormack-Goeth, George Schroder, Matt Scott, Charlotte Webby, Julian Weir; Taekwon Do: Jack Francois; Tennis: Matt Alexander, Claudia Williams; Triathlon: Simone Ackermann, Christian Davey, Jack Finlay, David Martin, Elizabeth Stannard, Nicole van der Kaay; Trampolining: Lachlan Smith; Ultimate Frisbee: Megan Edwards, Tristan Mercer, Keegan Miskimmin, Vaughan Wilson; Underwater Hockey: Georgia Child; Yachting: Erica Dawson, Andrew McKenzie, Molly Meech; Water Polo: Tamati Harris, Anton Sunde, Paige Walls.

Women’s Team of the Year
Massey A1 Netball Team and Massey Women’s 1 XI Football Team

Men’s Team of the Year
Massey White Rugby Team

Outstanding Contribution Award
Sarika Rona – Netball

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