University of Newcastle: University of Newcastle students celebrated at Sports Awards


The University of Newcastle Sports Awards, presented in conjunction with NUsport, celebrate sporting excellence within the university and included the presentation of Sport Scholarships and the prestigious University Blues and Colours awards as well as Sports Team, Sports Club and the Sports Person of the Year.

Deborah Wright, CEO of NUsport said the University of Newcastle Sports Awards were an important part of the University’s history and reflected the ongoing commitment to sport.

“Studying at university is about so much more than academic learning – it is a whole experience and sport plays a major role in that experience. Sport is a part of the fabric of Australian society and offers countless benefits socially and for people’s mental and physical health, which in turn goes hand in hand with academic success.

“Given the impact of COVID, we didn’t hold the Sports Award presentations for the past two years, so Friday’s event recognised performances from 2019, 2020.

“We are proud to have a dynamic group of students who have excelled both on and off the field, particularly over the past couple of years where students have been faced with additional challenges. The Sports Awards give us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our university sporting community in particular those student athletes from the community level, right through to athletes who are studying as part of our Elite Athlete Program.

“The Sports Awards celebrate not just the medals that have been won, but also the tenacity, teamwork and commitment it takes to succeed in sport and study.”

Recipients on the evening included postgraduate Doctor of Medicine student Ashley Colaco, who received a Blues Award for her achievements in water polo.

Ashley has competed in several international tournaments including in Taipei and Shanghai and was part of the Australian U20s squad that toured Germany, the Netherlands and Montenegro. Her commitment to water polo also extended to her taking on the role of Vice President of the University of Newcastle Water Polo Club.

Third year Bachelor of Medical Science/Doctor of Medicine student, Susannah Cooke was awarded the Friends of the University Scholarship for 2022.

Susannah is currently a member of the ACT Brumbies Super W Rugby Union squad, playing at halfback in 2021 and vying for selection for the 2022 season, which she manages alongside her studies.

The evening featured a guest panel of elite athletes including NRL Knights player and Bachelor of Business student, Jack Johns, and Newcastle Jets A-League Women’s goalkeeper, Claire Coelho who was a part of the Elite Athlete Program, graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science and Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Diploma of Legal Practice.

Claire now works as an Associate Solicitor in criminal law, alongside her football and explained how the program helped her balance her sporting and academic ambitions.

“The Elite Athlete Program helped support my studies and football commitments by ensuring I could apply for time extensions on assessments if I needed to during the season or where training loads were higher than normal.

“It was a privilege to return as a panellist for the awards. I am glad the Elite Athlete Program is supporting many other athletes to complete their studies as it is important to have life away from sport and a second option for when our sporting careers end.”

Mrs Wright said, “Seeing students succeed both on and off the field and then go on to achieve great things when they graduate is always an honour, so hearing from students like Jack and Claire was inspiring for everyone who attended the awards.”

The awards come after NUsport officially became a part of the University of Newcastle last year. The partnership guarantees funding to NUsport for the next 10 years to deliver high quality facilities that enhance the campus experience for students, staff and the wider community.

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