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Patrick Rebakis
Dec 5, 2017

ACU Cleans Up at Australian University Sport Awards

Dec 5, 2017 by Patrick Rebakis

ACU has won three accolades at the Australian University Sport (AUS) Awards to cap off a great year of sport and community engagement. Strathfield Student Kyle Cranston took out Male Athlete of the Year after winning gold at World University Games in Taipei, Courtney Hagen was awarded Most Outstanding Performance by an Indigenous Athlete for her contribution to Indigenous Games and University Games, and the Kicking Goals Together program won the Community Leadership Award for its sport and job-readiness focus with youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and international student backgrounds. The awards are a great reflection of the quality of programs and individual performances within ACU. 

The AUS Awards recognise the many outstanding performances and contributions recorded by student-athletes, coaches and community leadership programs in both international sport and AUS endorsed events. The awards have been conducted since 2001 with former winners including Grant Hackett, Cate Campbell, Dane Bird-Smith, Dylan Alcott and the Raise the Bar Academy at The University of Melbourne.

In winning gold, Kyle Cranston set four new PBs to become Australia's first ever medallist in the decathlon at World University Games.  This result earned Kyle a spot in Australia's Commonwealth Games team, where he'll be competing at the Gold Coast next year. For those unfamiliar with the Decathlon, it is a gruelling two-day multi-faceted athletics event consisting of four track and six field events testing both the body and mind of its participants.

Kyle has been a member of ACU's Elite Athlete & Performer Program for three years. During this time he has shown tremendous time management skills, discipline and commitment to both his studies and sporting career. Thanks to the program, Kyle has been able to study full-time throughout his Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science degree and is on track to graduate in 2018.

Courtney Hagen is a multi-disciplinary Indigenous athlete who has been involved in nearly every sports program ACU has to offer whilst completing her Bachelor of Exercise & Health Science degree. Courtney’s impressive list of sporting achievements this year include:

  • Captain of ACU at Indigenous Uni Games Geelong
  • Representing ACU in  3x3 Basketball at Southern Uni Games (SUGs) Geelong- Silver Medal
  • Representing ACU in Women’s Basketball at Southern Uni Games (SUGs) Geelong- Bronze Medal
  • Representing ACU at the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Oceania 3x3 World University League Qualifying Final
  • Captain of Queensland in the 2017 National Indigenous Cricket Championships, playing a pivotal role in the grand final.
  • Playing State League Basketball for Basketball Queensland’s QBL- Toowoomba Mountaineers. 

When asked what it meant to take out the Most Outstanding Performance by an Indigenous Athlete, Courtney said, ‘This is huge. To be a role model for young Indigenous female athletes and exceed in sport and education through University Games has been really important.  This helps to break the barriers down and remove stigma about participating in higher education and sport especially for Indigenous women. The experiences and friendships I have made from meeting students from all over Australia via Indigenous Uni Games, Southern Uni Games and 3x3 Uni Basketball Champs is something that will stay with me forever’.

Courtney is currently working as a Team Leader at the Sport and Recreation Centre in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory after recently completing her degree at ACU.  She spoke of the great support she received at ACU ‘… from everyone in Weemala, the Indigenous unit, to the key staff in Exercise Science, assistance from Equity Pathways and my involvement in ACU sport has given me everything I need to move forward into my professional career. I believe all the extra-curricular programs I was a part of helped me land my current job, a week after completing my degree’.

Topping off the AUS awards was Kicking Goals Together, a collaborative program between ACU Engagement; ACU Health, Sport, and Wellbeing; ACU International, and external partners QUT Sport and Multicultural Development Australia (MDA). Kicking Goals Together creates the opportunity for youth from refugee, migrant and international backgrounds to play in regular friendly matches with ACU domestic students and staff, allowing them to broaden their social networks. The program also involves the Skill-Up program, in partnership with MDA, which trains youth in areas such as personal brand and identity, job seeking, job keeping, and networking skills.

Dr Matthew Pink from ACU Engagement stated that ‘the award is a fantastic recognition for the hard work that all of our collaborators have put into Kicking Goals Together. It is testament to the positive relationships that have been formed between our collaborators, staff, students, and the broader community. We see this award as an affirmation to continue to expand and generate new Kicking Goals Together spaces’.

We would like to congratulate the recipients of these awards and thank everyone who has contributed to ACU’s sport and engagement programs. Their positive impact will have a lasting effect on the lives of students and community members far beyond the campus corridors.