Eleni’s participation in sports events across her schooling life at Oakleigh grammar greatly influenced her passion and interest for sport and exercise. The teachers and friends that Eleni made over the years encouraged her participation and contributed to her decision to take her interests further and pursue a career in the health and wellbeing industry. After graduating in 2011, Eleni has worked with professional athletes at the Melbourne Football Club, undertaken an exercise physiologist role to help ordinary people manage their injuries and chronic conditions, and now is completing her second masters to transition into a teaching career where she has currently returned to Oakleigh Grammar for her first teaching placement. Eleni has kindly offered to share her memories of Oakleigh Grammar and her journey since graduating, some advice for those looking into a career in the sport and fitness industry, and why now she has decided to become a teacher.
What have you completed since graduating?
Since graduating from Oakleigh Grammar in 2011 (then known as OGOC), I began my undergraduate journey through Deakin University studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science degree over a 3-year period. During these years, I was fortunate to work for the Oakleigh Charges TAC Football Club as a Sports Trainer, and at Knox Falcons Football Club as a Strength and Conditioning Rehabilitation Coach. My time at these clubs inspired me to progress into further studies, knowing there was more to exercise than just keeping fit, hence I went onto studying a Masters of Exercise Physiology degree with the focus on implementing exercise for the prevention and management of chronic conditions, injuries and disease.
During my post graduate degree, I had the opportunity to be involved with the Melbourne Football Club, drawing in first-hand experience on what it takes to work with elite athletes at an AFL level. For 6 years, well after graduating with a Masters of Exercise Physiology, I continued to work with the Melbourne Football Club as a Sports Trainer for both the AFL men’s and women’s teams. I also had the opportunity to work with the Casey Demons VFL women’s team as their Rehabilitation Coach.
Working within an elite sporting environment was an amazing experience, an eye opener that certainly challenged me professionally, seeing first-hand on what it takes to become a proficient athlete. My work continues as an Exercise Physiologist, a flip from the elite world, spending time within a health clinic seeing general population. Working with ordinary people who suffer from cardiovascular, metabolic, neuromuscular, and musculoskeletal injuries/conditions, specifically diabetes, joint replacements, heart diseases, sports injuries, and cancer. This is also rewarding work, seeing my clients improve from day to day through specific and personalised exercise programs that will help them manage their injury/chronic condition.
I am in the process of transitioning into a teaching career as well as continuing my work as an exercise physiologist. I have commenced a Masters of Secondary Teaching degree at Deakin University and have returned to Oakleigh Grammar to complete my first teaching placement.
How has an Oakleigh Grammar education contributed to your success?
Definitely my participation in School sports events such as the athletics carnivals, swimming carnivals, cross-country, interschool sports and the National Schools Event. Studying VCE PE increased my passion for all things sports and exercise, inspiring me to focus on a career within the health and wellbeing industry. I was fortunate to have had great teachers and friends that encouraged my participation in sport, although I was not a great athlete. But being part of a team and the camaraderie on sports days was what kept me involved. Sport plays a vital role in everyone’s lives, especially children. It teaches them to keep moving and to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. This is something I am very passionate about and is a big contributor to my success in the sport, health and fitness industry.
What is your most memorable moment from your time as an Oakleigh Grammar student?
The most memorable moments were competing in the National Schools Event in years 10, 11 and 12. I had the good fortune to visit our sister schools in Sydney and Adelaide as part of the Netball and Futsal teams. Through the National Schools Event, I developed strong bonds with my friends, met new people and made new friends, represented my school and most of all, just had fun. My confidence grew and I just loved coming to School.
What made you decide to come back to Oakleigh Grammar to complete your student teaching?
The big draw card was my VCE PE and Sports teacher, Mr Joyce. I have known Mr Joyce all my years at Oakleigh Grammar (formerly known as OGOC). He was a FANTASTIC teacher, he had the talent to turn each lesson into a practical session whereby the students had the opportunity to learn the content through a ‘hands-on’ approach, making the students learn through experience. This learning model suited me, as the content was easier to understand and classes more enjoyable. His passion for the subject and dedication to his students provided the best learning experience possible. His classes were inspiring, and I will strive to bring the same passion for innovative learning to my classroom. I knew Mr Joyce would put in 100% to my experience as a student teacher, and that I would gain lots of knowledge from his experience. I also loved the friendly, family-oriented school environment that OGOC provided me growing up.
Do you have any advice you would like to share for someone who may be inspired to pursue a career in the Sport and Fitness industry?
To pursue a career in the Sport and Fitness industry, you do not need to be a great athlete. It’s about the science, understanding the structure and function of the human body, including physical, psychological, emotional and mental aspects. Once you have mastered these connections and can assist those who are physically suffering and/or to become stronger, it will provide them with a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for a better quality of life, and this is what makes my job rewarding.
My advice is to throw yourself into as many experiences as possible whether it be internships or volunteer work to increase your chances of success. Play sport and become familiar with the environment, you don’t need to be a great athlete to get involved. It will boost your confidence and learn what it takes to be an athlete, making you a better trainer.
Finally, why did you decide to become a teacher and what do you consider the most essential skills are for becoming a teacher?
My experience as a Coach and Exercise Physiologist has been rewarding and has taken me places that I did not imagine possible. I get to see my athletes and clients improve each day, reach heightened goals, and succeed in many aspects of their life. Whether it be winning a game, being able to finish a marathon or simply being fit and healthy enough to play with their children. I believe teaching is very similar, seeing students thrive in their education to become confident and independent learners. To provide students the tools and good habits early in their life for long term successes. Sport and physical activity can play a huge part in developing healthy self-esteem, belonging, and general wellbeing.
The most essential skills for becoming a teacher are DEDICATION in helping students succeed, ENTHUSIAM about their job and lessons to encourage students to share the same passion and excitement to learn, and INTERPERSONAL SKILLS to create warm and engaging relationships within a school community to boost learning.