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Campus News : December 2010
8 Campus News December 2010 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au Alumni graduates of our university... Sports roles lured Debbie from schools DEBBIE KEMP Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education) 1999 NSW Sports Federation Chief Executive Officer Debbie Kemp was a finalist in this year's Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year awards after being nominated for her role in "turning around" the organisation. The nomination was a clear endorsement of her decision to follow a career in the sports industry rather than teaching soon after she completed her Bachelor of Education at UOW in 1999. And while she has no regrets about her career choice, she said what she learned at UOW had been invaluable in the roles she had taken on. Debbie (nee Dryland) was a targeted graduate when she completed UOW's physical education course in 1999, and spent a short time teaching at Lurnea High School in Sydney. However, her interest lay in a career in the sports industry and she soon accepted a role as a field officer with the National Heart Foundation's Jump Rope for Heart program, travelling to schools around NSW running skipping workshops and heart health presentations, as well as fundraising. She progressed to NSW State Coordinator for Jump Rope for Heart before joining the Australian Sports Commission as a regional manager of its Active After-school Communities program. In 2007 the NSW Sports Federation advertised its CEO's position, and Debbie felt she was ready to step up to a senior role. The NSW Sports Federation is considered the "voice of sport" in NSW -- representing close to 100 organisations and associations -- and Debbie was delighted when she was appointed to the position. "I really enjoy working with a great mix of passionate, dedicated people involved in the sports industry in NSW. I like the variety of working with so many different organisations, large and small, with different challenges," Debbie said. "And I get to attend some exciting sporting events!" As CEO, Debbie is responsible for the federation's strategic direction, managing staff and projects and liaising with stakeholders. "I am also responsible for the financial success of the organisation, so I am always focused on income streams, funding opportunities and our budget," Debbie said. NH Matt has a degree of certainty MATT FLINN Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education) 2000 Matt Flinn loves his role as assistant coach and community development officer with the high-flying Wollongong Hawks in the National Basketball League, but he's glad he has a teaching degree from UOW to fall back on if necessary. Last season the Hawks reached the NBL grand final series, going down 2-1 to the Perth Wildcats. Their early form in the 2010-2011 season suggests the Hawks will once again be one of the leading contenders. Matt, who graduated from UOW with a PE teaching degree in 2000, joined the Hawks coaching staff in 2007, combining his club duties with teaching and coaching basketball at the Illawarra Sports High School at Berkeley. He gave up his teaching position at Illawarra Sports High this year to work full-time with the Hawks under head coach and local hero Gordie McLeod. As much as he enjoyed teaching, Matt has no regrets about his career move. However, as a father of two he's happy he has a back-up plan - thanks to a second chance from the University of Wollongong. "IlovemyroleattheHawksbutIamgladIhavemy teaching degree as a back-up," Matt said. In his earlier career as a professional basketballer with the Hawks and the Townsville Crocodiles, Matt admits he didn't have a back-up plan -- and he learned his lesson the hard way. A talented junior player who captained the NSW Under 20 team, Matt spent a year playing college basketball in the United States, three seasons in the NBL with the Hawks between 1992-1994 and two seasons playing in Queensland in 1995-1996. Playing basketball was his life. Then at age 27 his sporting career ended and he realised that there was no Plan B. "I didn't have a contract for 1997 and I didn't have a back- up plan. I had been totally focused on basketball since high school," Matt said. He had actually started a Primary Teaching course at UOW in 1995 (having gained entry through UOW's Gateway program), but 'upped and left' when Townsville offered him a contact. In 1996 he moved from Townsville to Cairns to play in the semi-professional Australian Basketball Association league. Matt returned home to Wollongong in 1997 hoping to enrol in PE Teaching at UOW, but his previous decision to quit his course didn't help his cause. He remembers pleading his case with Dean of Students Yvonne Kerr, who said no a number of times. Much to his relief, he eventually Debbie Kemp Wollongong Hawks assistant coach and UOW PE graduate Matt Flinn pictured at a Hawks training session. Spotlight on PE graduates