December 11, 2019

Tens of thousands of VCE school leavers are anxiously waiting for the release of their ATAR scores tomorrow.

Whilst it is a traditionally a stressful year, two students who had a particularly eventful year are Annabel Sutherland and Goldie O’Gorman, who juggled their Year 12 studies with elite sporting achievements.

Above L-R: Annabel and Goldie (with Australian Junior Coxed Four Rowing crew).

Annabel has spent the year representing Australia in the Under 19s women’s cricketing team as well as being part of the Melbourne Stars in the Women’s Big Bash League and the Victorian team, and even played as part of MLC’s football premiership team.

“It’s been really good to have something else outside of school to keep me balanced,” she says. “It’s been really positive.”

Her cricket commitments included a trip to New Zealand, lengthy after-school training several times per week, multiple trips interstate and, due to the nature of the game, full days on weekends: “With cricket, it’s not just a couple of hours of a match, it’s a whole-day commitment.”

This year, Goldie represented Australia in the Women’s Junior Coxed Four rowing crew, travelling to Tokyo to compete at the World Rowing Championships, alongside a Sydney training camp and state and national rowing competitions throughout the year.

“I think I counted that I missed 28 school days this year,” she says. Like Annabel, she valued the balance between study and sport. “When you’re doing sport it’s a good outlet for the stresses of Year 12.

“Being selected for the Australian team happened very quickly, so I just had to fit school around it. It was too good an opportunity, I wasn’t going to give up on that!”

Both girls cited that their sporting commitments actually helped them with their studies and time management – clearly paying off, as both students were awarded being in the top 10% of the year level in several of their subjects as the school year drew to a close.

“I think I valued my study time more,” Goldie says. “As my rowing progressed I got used to the cycle of not having much of a weekend, and it definitely helped with my time management.”

Annabel agrees: “I’ve always thought cricket has made me avoid procrastinating! When I had training, I knew how many hours I had to get all my work done, and been able to then just get stuck into it.”

It hasn’t come without its sacrifices: both girls have missed “a fair few” 18th birthdays, plus Annabel missing ‘Schoolies’ and Goldie missing the Year 12 formal. However both have acknowledged how supportive and understanding their friends have been as they reach their goals, as well as their families.

“Mum was apprehensive about the school I was missing,” Goldie says, “but I spoke to her about how it helps with time management and was supportive about how much I would enjoy it. My teachers were all really good and understanding too, which was really helpful.”

Annabel was also appreciative: “My family have been really supportive. Mum’s done a fair few hours on the road between school and training. I’m extremely grateful for the support, I couldn’t do it without them.”

It’s clear that the two students have no regrets about the challenges they took on and are passionate about senior students maintaining their outside interests and hobbies.

“I think if people are apprehensive about giving time to other activities, be it sport or other things, it’ll actually help your time management,” Goldie says. “If you look at those who do well, it’s usually people who are well-rounded.”

“When I was starting Year 11 I found I had to be organised,” Annabel adds. “It was a good time to sort out what time you had to get the most out of it.”

No doubt that these achievements helped to colour their Year 12 year to be even more memorable, but it’s these memories that matter for all students, even if they’re not elite athletes.

“If you do other activities,” Goldie says, “those are the times you’re going to look back on, not just your studies. Absolutely go for it!”

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