Exercise science students gain valuable experience with North Coast Academy of Sport

Published 24 November 2021
Exercise science students (L-R) Kiara Richardson, Kelli Miller and Jess Thodey

For Northern Rivers mother-of-three Kelli Miller, becoming an exercise physiologist has been a long-time dream.

As an avid and multi-talented athlete, Kelli was in her mid-thirties when she decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

Fast-forward to now, and Kelli is completing the final practical placement of her degree through Southern Cross University’s long-standing partnership with North Coast Academy of Sport (NCAS), working with young athletes to improve strength and conditioning to become competition ready.

Other Southern Cross University sport and exercise science students currently on placement with NCAS include Jess Thodey and Kiara Richardson, who as high school students, came through the NCAS Netball program and basketball program respectively.

Kelli says the partnership has enabled her to gain real-world experience, putting her knowledge into practice with the region’s future sporting leaders.

“Through our placement with NCAS we’re working with the top young athletes in the region in sports such as swimming, golf, basketball and netball,” Kelli said.

“We’ve conducted a series of education days where all the athletes from different sports get together and there are speakers who talk about everything from nutrition to drugs in sport, goal setting, budgeting, time management.

“Then we helped lead the strength and conditioning component, where we were able to write programs for individuals and teams to run through with them.

“I’ve enjoyed all of it immensely, it’s been so good to get involved and use our knowledge in this way.”

Throughout her degree, Kelli continued playing soccer, Oztag and tennis, and regularly kayaking and wakeboarding, as well as ferrying her kids between school, sports matches and training. In late 2020 however, she suffered a devastating ACL injury during a sporting match, but quickly decided to make the most of her recovery and not let it impact her studies and everything she’d worked so hard for.

“I haven’t let it slow me down, if anything I’ve been able to use my knowledge in the field to help with my recovery and as I’m learning new things in each subject I have even more of an appreciation for it now with the personal experience I’ve had,” she said.

“I’ve been facing the challenge and working my physio and doing what I can to strengthen other muscles to get myself back into social sports.

“And it’s been great having studies and placement to focus on so I feel still really involved in sport even during my recovery.”

Kelli is set to graduate this year and has already been accepted to study a Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology through Southern Cross.

For her, it’s not just about being ‘fit and fabulous’, but also functional.

“My goal is to be able to work with elderly people, helping them to be able to stay home for longer and do normal everyday things like carrying groceries and walking upstairs – and they can do that if they have that support from an exercise physiologist who can give them specific exercises to help,” she said.

“For anyone who has an interest in exercise physiology I’d definitely recommend they jump in and pursue it, especially at Southern Cross where we have such a great hands-on degree with amazing partnerships such as North Coast Academy of Sport. There are definitely calls for more qualified people in our industry.”

Find out more about sport, exercise science and clinical exercise physiology course offerings at Southern Cross University at scu.edu.au/exercisescience

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or content@scu.edu.au