Insight on Elite-Level Sacrifices

Oct 7, 2023 | News

Across every aspect of the South West Academy of Sport, education and improvement is paramount.

From SWAS chief executive Bernice Butlion down, every athlete, athlete and volunteer leaves no stone unturned in a bid to improve their knowledge. While Butlion has enjoyed more
than two decades in the sport and recreation industry, her recent tertiary education experiences have provided a completely new skill set.

“This year, I’ve been able to finish off my master’s degree in primary school teaching,” she said. “It was quite challenging because this time I needed to undertake my practical units.
“For me, it is not only on-the-job training, but a whole new field of learning for me.”

While Butlion has no shortage of experience with mentoring athletes and catering to their individual needs, she believes working with primary school children requires some different skills. “No two people
are the same,” she said. “I tried to use that mantra ‘no one gets left behind’ at all times. For me, its expanded my knowledge of what happens in schools.”

On Thursday, SWAS athletes will attend an Olympics Unleashed education program session, held for the first time in two years. Reputable Hockeyroos goalkeeper Aleisha Power — originally
from Northam — and two-time cycling world champion Josie Tomic will share insights into the emotional and physical sacrifices needed to reach the pinnacle of world sport.

“Two years ago, we had Olympians come down and share their stories,” Butlion said.

“Some of these athletes have been through the US college system. They’re able to talk about just how hard it is to be an athlete in a foreign country, along with what goes into training ahead of a world championship event.

“Also critically, they are well-versed on mental toughness. From dealing with disappointment of missing out on national selection despite working hard, to developing an adaptable attitude towards aspects of high-performance sport.”

Photograph: Teneille Watson