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20 May 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A Wimmera school has sought insight from influential sports stars to combat a sedentary lifestyle after noticing morale was low among students due to COVID-19.
Horsham Holy Trinity Lutheran College sourced three elite athletes who have roots in the Wimmera to share their sporting journies with students.
Horsham AFL player Darcy Tucker, Nhill rowing world champion Lucy Stephan and Horsham export heptathlete Anna Bush joined HTLC students in a virtual forum on Friday last week.
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This came after a student survey concluded sports participation was down 15.2 percent across the school body.
Stephan, who had been self-isolating in Nagambie since the start of lockdowns, agreed it had been challenging to stay motivated through COVID-19.
The nationally renowned Olympian is continuing to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, now postponed to 2021.
Stephan said having incremental goals helped her to achieve big.
“If you set little goals, you’re able to achieve them,” she said.
“For me, I’m trying to get a bit stronger in the gym or getting my erg a little bit better. It’s little things like that, that you can get the same satisfaction of achieving that you would get from wining a footy game or wining a race.”
Stephan grew up in the Wimmera, taking part in team sports including netball and basketball.
She discovered the sport of rowing later in life after moving to Ballarat Grammar in year nine and now competes in mainly coxless four events around the globe.
She said she still retained a strong connection with the region.
“The Wimmera is very close to my heart,” she said.
“This is about giving back to the community and chatting about the sport I love.”
Stephan said persistence was key to succeeding in any sport or activity.
“When you’re a country kid, you potentially don’t have opportunities to try a lot of sport – but if you stick at it and you find something you love, you will be successful, and be the best that you can be,” she said.
“You never know where that might take you, rowing has taken me all over the world.”
HTLC’s head of health and physical education Cameron Pickering said he hoped attracting elite athletes would demonstrate that rural students could go on to achieve great feats.
“Kids don’t have to leave the community to make it,” he said.
“We’re pretty huge on using local role models, people who have come from the very same streets our students have walked on.”
Mr Pickering said he wanted students to stay motivated throughout COVID-19.
“We’re just trying to think outside of the box to keep the kids motivated, trying to counteract the increased sedentary lifestyle through COVID-19,” he said.
“Football, netball and hockey – that’s what we’re missing the most. Not having school sports has a big effect on these students. We were thinking really creatively in the way that we can still get great educational outcomes.”
The entire May 20, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!