The SESF is incredibly fortunate to have the support of its ambassadors, all who bring not only a long list of accolades, but so too a commitment to provide mentoring and guidance to scholarship recipients. All stars in their own right, and all having passed through the School Sport Victoria pathway, SESF’s ambassadors are enabling us to reach new audiences but more importantly, are providing insight and guidance on goal setting, the importance of defining your values and pathways to success, via one on one mentoring to our scholarship recipients.
The SESF Mentoring Program was initiated by Olympic Gold medalist and SESF ambassador Mack Horton in 2019, who is back mentoring two new SESF alumni in 2020. Significantly the SESF has ten Olympians / Australian representatives mentoring twelve SESF scholarship winners/alumni in 2020. With the current COVID 19 challenges for everyone, mentoring sessions are virtual with mentors set up in their own ‘mentoring pods’ with their men-tees, parents/guardians and two SESF committee members involved. All can write to each other, set mentoring goals and tasks, ask questions and post photos, videos and updates.
The mentoring Program sits under the guidance of SESF Committee Member and AFL legend Nathan Burke as our ‘Mentoring Team Leader’ who regularly collaborates and runs online training sessions with all SESF mentors. The SESF Mentor Program follows the strictest of protocols and governance.
School Sport Victoria is proud to welcome Mack Horton OAM to our exclusive group of ambassadors. Horton is a perfect fit for many reasons. Nick Mooney, Executive Director of SESF, says “Mack is an inspirational athlete and a passionate advocate for school sport and students in schools across our nation.” Horton cherishes his school sport memories. “Team Vic and School Sport Victoria has been a major part of my swimming journey. Going away with the Team Vic team was the start of my swimming pathway and gave me the understanding that I could take my sport further.”
Mack Horton is one of Australia’s most successful elite athletes. The Olympic and Commonwealth Gold medalist started his illustrious swimming career while in school, making his first international debut as a 13 year old, breaking the first of many Australian records as a school boy. From this it was clear that Mack was destined for greatness, but he has always had a grounded perspective when it comes to his international success, stating that he felt a similar sense of achievement from winning his school championships as he did an Olympic Gold.
Horton overcame a fear of water at age 11, and less than two years later he broke his first of many Swimming World Records. These aspects of his story will inspire the next generation of emerging athletes. “Meeting my swimming hero Grant Hacket at the 2006 Commonwealth Games provoked me into wanting to be just like him. Now I want to inspire other athletes to not only be their best, but to be the best.” Most elite athletes begin their journey in school and Horton is no different. School Sport Victoria is proud to have played a part in Mack’s sporting journey.
Gabrielle Newton, or as she would prefer to be called Gabby, graduated from Greensborough College in 2019. Little did she know how much her life would change after being the AFLW number one draft pick for the 2020 season. Gabby is a talented dual athlete, in demand for both elite level Australian Football and elite level Basketball being selected in the AFLW Western Bulldogs, and in the for the Southern Basketball Association NBL1 series, averaging 2.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Gabby commenced her sporting journey within school sport. Gabby was successfully selected in the Team Vic Basketball State Team in 2017, 2018, 2019, and the Team Vic Australian Football State Team three times, 2012, 2015, 2016.
These sporting achievements are incredible but don’t stop there, in 2018 Gabby was awarded arguably her highest career accolade when she received a Victorian School Sports Awards for Basketball.
Gabby was awarded a Sports Excellence Scholarship in 2016 for 15 Years and Under Girls Australian Football.
We are so pleased to have Gabby Newton on board as an SESF Ambassador.
Dual sport athlete
Team Vic member
AFLW Premiership Player
Australian basketball representative
Sports Excellence Scholarship Winner
FIBA U17 World Team 2016
U17 Australian Representative 2016
A highly talented athlete, Monique Conti has achieved so much in her sporting career to date.
Combining her two favourite sports, Football and Basketball, Monique excelled at both throughout her junior years representing Australia for Basketball at the U17 World Championships, taking home Gold and winning selection in the World Team. Before returning the following year in 2017 to represent Australia in the U/19 World Championships. In addition to this Monique was selected as part of the inaugural AFL Womens Academy, highlighting her talent across both sports.
After a terrific 2016/17 Basketball season culminating in Monique winning the WNBL Rookie of the Year, Melbourne Boomers signed Monique to a four year contract, showing just how critical the Year 12 student was to the team. At the conclusion of the Basketball season and immediately following her return from the U19 World Basketball Championships, Monique played a handful of games for Melbourne Uni in the VFL Womens competition highlighting her resilience. On the back of Monique’s strong finish to the VFL Womens season, Monique was taken with the third pick in the 2017 Victorian AFLW Draft by the Western Bulldogs resulting in her playing at the elite level in both Basketball and Football.
In what has been a tremendous sporting year, Monique played off in the WNBL Grand Final Series for the Melbourne Boomers where they eventually went down in the third a final game of the series to Townsville. However, not allowing that to inhibit her ambitions, Monique went straight into the AFLW season where she instantly made her mark with her skill, speed, and agility, continually breaking the lines for the Bulldogs and sending them into attack. As the season went on, Monique continued to grow in confidence resulting in her taking home the Best on Ground Medal in the Bulldogs first AFLW Premiership in what was a game defining performance. As the celebrations continued on from the Premiership win, Monique was awarded Runners Up of the AFLW Rising Star Award and won the Western Bulldogs Best First Year Player.
In Season 2019, Monique again made a very quick transition from Basketball to Football, where here Basketball season finished with a finals loss in Adelaide on the Thursday, before flying back to Melbourne the following day, to only return to Adelaide to play the season opener against the Crows on the Saturday night. Monique started her season well, continuing her strong form throughout the season to win the Western Bulldogs Best & Fairest. At the conclusion of the season, Monique made the tough decision to leave the Bulldogs and join Richmond for there inaugural season in 2020.
Born September 26, 1962 at Ballarat, Victoria
Married to Tanya and we have four children, Emma, Laura, Matthew and Olivia
I am 176 centimetres tall and weigh 60 kilograms
Degree in Civil Engineering, Graduate Diploma in Education (Maths \ Science)
Honorary Doctorate from University if Ballarat (2001)
Chair of the State Review into Physical and Sport Education in Victorian Schools (1993 – 1996)
Chair of the Board of Victorian Institute of Sport (2001 – 2010)
National selector for Athletics Australia (2009 – 2012)
Athlete Liaison Officer – 2002 Commonwealth Games
Mayor of Athlete’s Village for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
Race Director Run for the Kids Fun Run (2006 -)
Ambassador for Nike Australia (1986 – )
Chef de Mission 2010, 2014 and 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games Team
Awarded an AM for significant service to athletics as a marathon runner, administrator and mentor to young athletes in 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours
Australian Sports Commission Board Member (2015 – )
Director – Moneghetti Consulting Group Pty Ltd.
Life Member of Athletics Victoria & Ballarat YCW
Began athletics in 1976 at age 14.
-1986 Commonwealth Games Marathon – Bronze medal
-1990 Commonwealth Games Marathon – Silver medal
-1994 Commonwealth Games Marathon – Gold medal
-1998 Commonwealth Games 10 km track – Bronze medal
Attended 1987, ’91,’93,’95,’97,’99 World Athletic Championships winning the Bronze Medal in the Marathon in Athens in 1997.
Attended 1988, ’92 ’96 and 2000 Olympic Games finishing in the top ten on 3 occasions
Winner of 1990 Berlin Marathon and 1994 Tokyo International Marathon
Previous holder of 3 World Bests for the Half Marathon (1990, 92, 93)
Winner of 4 City to Surf races (1989 – 1992) and current race record holder.
Winner of 4 Zatopek 10km Track races (1989 – 1992) only person ever to win 4 in a row.
I have run 22 international marathons and finished in 11th place or higher in 20 of them. Retired after Sydney 2000 Olympic Games but still heavily involved in running within Australia.
I trained twice a day, covering 180 – 200 per week and roughly 8500km a year under the guidance of dual Olympian and Sydney 2000 Athletics Head Coach Chris Wardlaw.
Still running everyday covering over 100km a week. Recently won the Oceania Masters Athletics 50+ Cross Country title and in 2009 ran a world age record for a forty six year old of 29.59mins for 10km on the road making me the oldest person to run under the 30minute barrier.
Brooke is a 24 year old Long Jumper based in Melbourne, Australia, training under the guidance of her coach Russell Stratton.
Brooke began the sport of athletics at a young age of 5, at the Nunawading Little Athletics Centre, where she found her passion for long jump after winning her first state gold medal in U9. Brooke won many State and National titles through her younger years, and has also represented Australia at both a World Youth and junior level. Beyond these achievements, Brooke has progressed to be the current Australian Open Long Jump Champion, a Rio Olympic Finalist, a World Indoor finalist and a World Championships finalist .
Brooke attended Caulfield Grammar School and graduated year 12 in 2011. Brooke is currently studying a bachelor of health Sciences – Majoring in exercise science and sports coaching at Deakin University.
2009 World Youth Championships Long Jump Finalist – 10th Place
2010 World Junior Championships Long Jump Finalist – 6th Place
2011 Mannheim International Gala, Germany – Gold Medal
2012 World Junior Championships Long Jump Finalist – 7th Place
2013 Taiwan Open Championships Long jump Finalist – Silver Medal
Under 20 Australian Record Holder – 6.60m
2014 Australian Long Jump Champion – 6.70m (Commonwealth Games A Qualifying Standard)
2015 IAAF Seiko Golden Grand Prix, Kawasaki Japan – 3rd, 6.46m
2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships – 14th, 6.64m
2016 Canberra Track Classic – 6.94m – Gold Medal
2016 Perth Track Classic – 7.05m -> AUSTRALIAN/ OCEANIA/ VICTORIAN Open Record – Gold Medal
2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships – 6.75m – 5th place
2016 Australian Athletics Championships and Olympic Selection Trials – Gold Medal
2016 Stockholm Diamond League – 4th place
2016 Finalist at the RIO Olympic Games – 7th Place
2017 London Diamond League – 6.79m – Bronze Medal
2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships – 6.67m - 6th Place
2018 Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast) 6.77m – Silver Medal
”Being part of SSV team is one way I can help as many athletes as possible, on and off the track, to be successful in life.”
Richard was born in 1984 with Spina Bifida. He took to sport at a young age and was involved in many sports before the love of athletics took his full attention.
Richard first competed at the SSV Primary Schools State Championships in 1995, while in Year 4, and then made his first SSV team in 1996 for the Pacific School Games in Perth. Since then he has competed in many national and international competitions.
Richard says: ”I am very passionate about School Sport Victoria because this is where my sporting life began 20 years ago. And without that opportunity, I would never have achieved what I have in that time or been able to be an athlete and had the experiences I have around the world. I am now coaching and helping the next generation of athletes and hopefully future Australian stars. Being part of SSV team is one way I can help as many athletes as possible, on and off the track, to be successful in life.”
Richard first competed for Australia at the 2002 IPC World Athletics Championships in Lyon, France, where he came away with a Bronze medal in the T53 400m. Two years later, at his first Paralympic Games in Athens, Richard won Gold in the T53 800m and Silver in the 4x100m.
In 2006 Richard won a Bronze medal in the T53 800m at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Assen, The Netherlands, followed in 2008 by Silver in the T53 200m and Bronze in the T53 400m at the Beijing Paralympic Games.
In 2010 Richard competed at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in the T54 1500m, winning a silver medal. Then in 2011 he won his first IPC World Athletics Championship gold medal, in the T53 800m, and silver in the T53 400m. In the same year Richard also won the T53 400m Gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Deagu, South Korea.
You can view highlights of Richard’s career achievements on this short video (0:55).
Richard is a keen traveller and has now visited 60 countries with the aim of competing in 100. He continues to play wheelchair basketball in the local Geelong league and regularly swims as part of his cross training.
We are pleased to have Richard on the on the SSV coaching team and as a School Sport Victoria Ambassador.
Dual Olympian, Dual Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, 3 Times World Championship Team Member, National Champion and Victorian Female Athlete of the Year
”My passion for sport and specifically gymnastics came when I joined my local gymnastics club as a 7 year old for fun. As the sport quickly progressed for me I experienced 3 different primary schools to accommodate my gymnastics needs as I moved closer to where I trained. Beginning at St Michael’s Primary School in Berwick, moving to Mentone Park Primary School and then Stonnington Primary School when the gym relocated to Prahran.
I made my first National team as a 13 year old and was a National Team member from 2004 to 2012 whilst completing high school at Melbourne Girls’ College in Richmond. As gymnastics is generally a young sport for girls, I was experiencing the demands of elite sport that most athletes would go through in their mid to late 20s. Melbourne Girls’ College provided me with the assistance to achieve my sporting and academic goals such as going to the Beijing Olympics during year 12.
I was fortunate enough to finish my gymnastics career as a two time Olympian, dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist and a three-time world championship team member. Since retiring after the London Olympics, I am now completing a Master in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation). I remain involved in the sport, speaking publically where opportunities present and by introducing primary school children to gymnastics, showing them the benefits of building strong foundations through these skills.”
Dual Olympic silver medallist and five-time world championship medallist
School Sport Victoria is excited to welcome Joshua Dunkley-Smith as an SSV Ambassador.
Growing up in the outskirts of Geelong, Joshua Dunkley-Smith was introduced to rowing through school sport. It was during this time that he learned his craft, as he continued to improve his speed, fitness and technique. To his friends and family it was clear that he not only had a passion for the sport, he also had a talent that would one day have Dunkley-Smith representing Australia in the green and gold.
Dunkley-Smith’s decorated achievements speak for themselves. A dual Olympic silver medallist, and five-time world championship medallist is enough to impress anyone, but it doesn’t end there. In 2018 Dunkley-Smith was arguably in the best form of his life. The 28-year-old powerhouse rower posted the fastest ever 2000m time on an ergo, breaking a 10-year-old record held by Kiwi Rob Waddell.
This amazing record breaking performance was the cherry on top of an already stela career. Dunkley-Smith won silver medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the men’s four and also has five world rowing championship medals to his name.
Dunkley-Smith is passionate about introducing as many students as possible to the sport of rowing, whether indoor or outdoor. Dunkley-Smith believes that rowing is a great entry level sport for any student, regardless of fitness levels, or ability. He believes that the team aspect of the sport, as well as individual events, are a great drawcard for anyone wishing to keep fit and enjoy rowing.
Australian 800m Athlete
”The lessons you learn on the sporting field such as teamwork, communication and determination are skills I use daily in my life.”
As a sport obsessed child, Kelly participated in many sports, where she found she had a knack for running fast. Kelly was successful as a junior athlete winning several State and National track and cross country championships. Throughout her childhood Kelly continued to run, proudly representing her school and local club, Glenhuntly, where she achieved a high level of success.
Kelly says: ”I am passionate about being a SSV ambassador as I believe sport is such a crucial physical, mental, emotional and social part of children’s and adult development. Sport was a huge part of my life growing up and still is a huge part today. The lessons you learn on the sporting field such as teamwork, communication and determination are skills I use daily in my life.”
After achieving 2nd place in the 800m at the National Championships, Kelly represented Australia on the senior team at the 2011 World University Games where she made the semi-finals. She continued to progress through senior ranks with her breakthrough year in 2013 when she was undefeated in the Australian season, went on to win the National Open 800m title and qualified for the 2013 World Championships. She was selected in the 2014 Commonwealth Games team but sadly withdraw due to injury. In 2015 Kelly was a member of the 4x800m World Relay team which successfully took the bronze medal.
After not getting the results she was striving for in 2014 and 2015, Kelly’s sights are firmly set on the 2016 Rio Olympics and beyond that a home Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Kelly feels very lucky that she is able to travel the world, meet amazing people, and compete at the highest level of the sport. She hopes that through her running and interaction with the public she can inspire some of Australia’s next generation to compete in the sport that she loves.
2013 Australian Open Championship- 800m 1st
2011 Australian Open Championship- 800m 2nd
2015 Victorian State Championships 800m 2nd
2014 Victorian State Championships 800m 3rd
2013 Victorian State Championships 800m 1st
2015 World Relays Championship 4x800m 3rd
2014 Selected for the Comm Games (withdrew due to injury)
2013 World Championship representative 800m
2011 World University Games 800m Semi Finalist
2012 Paralympic Swimming Gold Medalist, 3 Time Australian Representative, World Championship Medalist
”School Sport is one of the most amazing things that a school kid can experience in their educational career.”
Matthew Haanappel was born in 1994 with Cerebral Palsy. His sporting career was supported from the beginning as he was born into a strong sporting family, which includes retired Tour de France winner Cadel Evans AM.
As a young boy Matthew competed in a wide range of sport and recreational activities. Many of these were within the school sport system where he competed for his school in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. His sports included Aussie Rules Football, Basketball, Tee-Ball, Cricket and Tennis.
Matthew first competed in his chosen sport of swimming at the 2005 VPSSA State Swimming Championships at age 11, where he won a gold medal in the 50m Freestyle for Students with a Disability – a medal that he treasures dearly to this day. He was selected for his first Team Vic Swimming Team in 2008, competing in the Pacific School Games in Canberra. Matthew was again selected for Team Vic in 2009, 2011 and 2013, as well as 2012 where he was Team Captain. He regards the Team Vic Swim Team as his “family” because of all the wonderful experiences he has had with them.
Matthew represented Australia at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, winning a Gold and Bronze medal for the Freestyle and Medley Relay respectively. In 2013 he won his first international individual medal, a Bronze in the 100m Freestyle S6 at the IPC Swimming World Championships. 2014 took him to the Pan Pacific Championships in Los Angeles, returning home with 3 Gold, 2 Silver and a Bronze Medal, as well as joining Swimming Australia’s Paralympic Squad at the Australian Institute of Sport.
On Australian Day 2014 Matthew was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to sport and the community as a Gold Medallist and supporter of many community programs.
Matthew took most of the 2015 swimming season off to recover from shoulder surgery in preparation to be selected for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games team.
Outside of swimming, Matthew is studying a Sports Management degree at the University of Canberra, supports many disability organisations throughout Victoria and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Speaking on School Sport, Matthew says: “I have always said that School Sport is one of the most amazing things that a school kid can experience in their educational career. The benefits of school sport and physical education go beyond the field of play. The physical, emotional and mental benefits will take them beyond their school careers and into their working and further life. What really excites me about becoming an ambassador with School Sport Victoria is being able to assist in the development of the key skills that school kids can get out of playing or being involved in school sport.”
School Sport Victoria is excited to announce Sophie Taylor as an SSV Ambassador. Sophie is an Australian Hockey player, whose unconventional pathway to success is an inspiration.
Born in Camberwell Victoria, Sophie attended Camberwell Primary School from Prep to Year 4 before finishing her education at Carey Baptist Grammar School. Growing up with triplet older brothers who loved sport, the foundation was set for her to be an active sports person both on and off the field. As a youngster Sophie loved playing Cricket and she tried out for the Team Vic 12 Years and Under Cricket Team, and while she was not selected for the Team Vic team, to her surprise she was selected to play for the SSV Australian team. Sophie still has the baggy blue Team Vic uniform and speaks very fondly about the experience she had in the team. Sophie believes it gave her the confidence to tackle any sport with passion. Cricket was one of the many sports that Sophie was passionate about, and after much encouragement from family and friends, Sophie decided that she would try her hand at the Team Vic 12 Years and Under Hockey trials. Sophie still remembers the day clearly, as they read through the names Sophie knew that because her surname started with “T” she would be further down the list. It soon became clear that the T’s were skipped and Sophie had not made the team. Sophie didn’t let this come between her and her love for Hockey and used this opportunity to push her onto bigger and better things. Sophie trained hard and looked for any opportunity she could to play Hockey at the highest level, being selected for every Hockey Victoria team she was age eligible for. Sophie is passionate and lives by the saying ‘hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.’
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the youngster, with setbacks getting in the way of her progress at times. “I have faced a fair number of health set- backs throughout my career to date. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue in 2013 and suffered very badly for 3-4 years. Currently I am able to manage it very well. In 2015 I was diagnosed with glandular fever, and was also diagnosed with eating intolerances (gluten, lactose and fructose intolerance). Some days while in year 12 I was unable to get out of bed. This impacted every area of my life. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that listening to my body is very important.”
Sophie refused to allow these barriers to block her dreams and goals, and found ways to navigate a way forward. Sophie has relocated to Perth, Western Australia because she has been selected for the Hockey Australia Senior Squad – The Hockeyroos. She is in her final year of her Physiotherapy degree at La Trobe University and understands how important recovery and taking care of your body is.
Sophie is keen to share her message with students nationally, that setting goals and following your dreams is important, and not letting setbacks take your eyes off your goals.
Her mantra is clear: “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
Pro Golfer and former Team Vic Representative
“I am proud to be an SSV ambassador after my really positive school sport experiences and I look forward to inspiring the next generation of young golfers!
So Oh is a true product of the School Sport Victoria inter-school program and “Team Vic” representative pathway.
“I really first started getting inspired by golf when I played in the Victorian Primary School Golf Championships.”
“I really enjoyed being part of “Team Vic”, going to the School Sport Australia National Golf Championships in grades 4, 5 and 6.
Other career highlights have included “Going to the US for the first time to play… and winning the Espiritio Santo Trophy as a team. Oh, and probably the day I found out I was ranked world number one as an amateur too.
Oh, who attended McKinnon Primary and McKinnon Secondary Schools, had an impressive collection of achievements even from an early age. Su won the Primary School Golf Championships, and also received a coveted Victorian Sporting Blue Award, in 2009.
These National Championships and achievements elevated her to even greater heights with Su’s latest and greatest achievement being selected to represent Australia at the Rio Olympics.
Since receiving a scholarship from the SESF in 2015, Madison Prespakis has become a 2X AFLW All Australian, 2X Carlton AFLW Best and Fairest winner, AFLW Rising Star Winner and AFLW League Best and Fairest Winner.
Maddy is without a doubt one of the AFLW’s brightest stars, and it doesn’t get much better than that at her tender age!
In 2015, a teacher at Gisborne Secondary College suggested that Maddy trial for the Team Vic 16 & Under Girls Australian Football Team, opening Maddy’s eyes to another high-level football opportunity that she could further develop from. Upon selection in the team, Maddy received an SESF scholarship and went on to be part of the Championship winning Team Vic side in Geelong.
Maddy is thankful for the experience that the SESF was able to provide her stating that “With all the costs my parents were having to cover for the all the sport my sister and I were participating in, the scholarship I received from the SESF took a great strain off my family and enabled me to be a part of the Team Vic program without the added financial pressures. ”
Fast Facts (Maddy’s career so far):