SUSF’s Roundtable Talk Debut

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Nothing compares to Eastern Ave on Welcome Week.

Hundreds of stalls promoting different clubs and societies, food trucks, live entertainment, exciting sporting demonstrations from the Varsity Cheerleading Squad to the freebies available almost anywhere you look. Plainly put, it’s a pretty exciting time on campus.

However due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and the importance of adhering to government restrictions, Welcome Week has been shifted to be a complete online experience. Like many organisations, Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness has faced its own challenges. Having to close our doors for a couple of months forced different segments of our business to reimagine ways to service our members.

Sera Naiqama sits down with four of SUSF’s finest managers, Noura Ridha (Group Fitness Manager), Matt Rennick (Programs and Participation Manager), Dylan McDonald (Camperdown Facility Manager) and Kellie Warren (Swim Program Manager) to discuss their programs and how they’ve continued during these trying times.

“The biggest challenge for me was planning for things that might not go ahead. I know we’ve thrashed the word uncertain but things were uncertain and changing every day and even now we are still planning for things that might not go ahead.” Said Matt.

From a facilities point of view, Dylan was on the ground with the Operations team planning for a reopen. It was no small task but thankfully because of their persistence, our facilities are open and fully operating.

“A month before we opened it was a logistical nightmare trying to keep up with the government recommendations because it was changing every 3-4 days. We had a dedicated team absorbing information, meeting every day, coming up with a plan and adapting to necessary changes along the way.”

Providing group fitness classes via Facebook live, offering faculty workouts on Zoom, creating COVIDSafe protocols to ensuring our elite swimmers continued to stay in shape while not being able to access our pools were challenging moments, but what helped Noura, Matt, Dylan and Kellie going was two-fold. A passion for what they do and who they do it for.

“Once lockdown kicked in, I had a realisation of how much members helped motivate instructors. Working out on your own is a disaster. As much as I thought it was my job to motivate people, I didn’t realise the effect they have on me and how they make me work harder. They are the reason I perform the way that I do. It was a real eye-opener for me.” said Noura.

Someone, somewhere once said that life is about the journey. Cliché but very true. Hearing this from Kellie reminded us just how special it is to witness another’s journey and seeing them exceed at the highest level.

“For me it’s the ability to take a child from age 2.5 years of age and see them progress through our pathways, be part of the SU family, through the squads, to maybe one of our instructors then having them apart of our varsity squad and then become alumni of Sydney University. I’ve seen a child fall off the wall from humpty dumpty to standing on a national podium.”

The friendships, the memories and the people – they all contribute to the uniqueness of the SUSF family-like community that has been built over decades on the back of strong values and culture. This roundtable talk will give viewers a unique perspective of what happens and what is felt by those working behind-the-scenes. A full replay is now available on YouTube.

With Welcome Week still in full swing, be sure to stay up to date with all our content by following us on Instagram and Facebook or alternatively, see our full schedule here.

By Sera Naiqama