UNE student and NIAS netball coach Sophie Hansen

Interview with UNE student and NIAS netball Sophie Hansen

Blog content provided from the legendary team at Northern Inland Academy of Sport

Here at NIAS, we have had many athletes and coaches who have been through the Academy and have continued on to study (with our major partner) at UNE. Sophie Hansen is one of these students. She came through the Academy playing netball and has been a part of the NIAS netball coaching team since 2019. Being a NIAS alumni and studying at UNE, Hansen has been able to reap the benefits of the NIAS and UNE Sporting scholarship throughout 2020.

Life in the Northern Inland Academy of Sport can open doors for many young people in our region and provide great opportunities to help them excel in the future. The partnership between NIAS and UNE provides one of these opportunities where athletes in the Academy can immerse themselves into UNE facilities at training sessions and camps.  We caught up with Hansen (who is currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology) to discover more about her life through NIAS and studying at UNE.

Are you a townie or a college student at UNE?

I am a college student, living at St Albert’s College. It’s been great. I love the friendship that I have formed and the tight-knit community that they encourage at Albies. No matter your age or interests, you are treated the same and welcomed by the college.

What’s one thing you’ve learnt in your time as a student that you didn’t expect?

With COVID-19 throwing some curveballs, the learning process was a little different for students, including myself this year. Something that I have learnt and really relied on this year was having the ability to lean on and work with those around you that are studying similar courses. I have learnt how to delegate tasks and work with others in achieving a common goal.

Have you always been passionate about netball? 

Yeah, I’ve played netball since I was in primary school and have loved since then! I am a midcourter through and through (too short for either of the circles).

You coach netball with us, can you share a little highlight with us?

A memory and an experience that stands out in coaching for me was the 2019 Academy Challenge that we as NIAS coaches attended with our athletes. The tournament allowed us to work with coaches from all over NSW with varying degrees of coaching experience and methods. Not only were we able to work with other coaches, but we were also given a range of athletes from other regional academy’s which I found really strengthened my confidence and communication approach as a coach.

How has playing a team sport enhanced your time at University?

No matter your sporting level or ability, team sports are so important in creating networks and friendships – this is something that really helped when moving into college life.

What have you learnt from your time as a trainee netball coach in NIAS?

Being a trainee coach within the NIAS Netball program has helped shape me into the person I am today.  I have learnt that people learn in many different ways, coaching challenges me to broaden my approach toward instruction, communication and transparency.  Athlete needs differ from player to player, I have learnt to adapt my coaching style to suit their individual needs and tailor my response to communicate effectively with the athletes.  I have loved being a part of the netball coaching staff and NIAS program.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to stay in Armidale at college for another couple of years until my degree ends and I then hope to move overseas at the completion of my course and work somewhere in the exercise physiology field.

Hansen not only studies at UNE and coach’s netball in NIAS but also plays on the St Albert’s College A Grade netball team, competing in the UNE netball competition!


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