FEAP Athlete Profile - Claire McCulloch, Water Polo

FEAP Claire McCulloch
Water Polo player Claire McCulloch joined Matthew Flinders Anglican College in 2021 and has wasted no time in embracing the many opportunities available to her as part of her Flinders education. Through our new Flinders Elite Athlete Program, Claire is learning skills to manage the competing demands of sport and study - to make the most of her important schooling years.
We asked Claire to share this Q&A profile so we can all learn more about her journey, including her dream to wear the green and gold at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
Notes from the FEAP Director, Mrs Lauren Nourse:

"Claire is a new student to Flinders this year and has settled in beautifully. She shows exceptionally high organisational skills and her ability to juggle her huge training load, largely in Brisbane, is a true credit to her. Claire is a very determined young lady who works hard in everything she takes on and continues to impress me with her focus and drive to achieve her goals for water polo and academics."

Q: Tell us about some of your sporting achievements.

My passion is Water Polo. While some events have been cancelled this year, I have been able to achieve the following in 2021:

  • Our team came 4th and won the Coach’s Award (team) and the Encouragement Award (one of the two state awards) at the Queensland School Girls Water Polo event in May. 
  • In January, at Water Polo Queensland Club States, our bottom-age club team came 5th in 16G (Div 1) and 1st in 18G (Div 2)
  • In April, I made arguably the best youth team in Australia, Mermaids Pink, as a bottom-age development player to play 16 Girls WPA Club Nationals. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled.
  • In July, I was named in the 15G Water Polo Queensland Maroon Team to play Nationals in September, now delayed to December.
  • I am also part of an invite-only training squad, the Mermaids Brisbane 2032 and Target Squad. It aims to help athletes prepare for future events, such as the Nationals and Worlds in coming years. It is a huge commitment and will take my training to the next level. 
Q: What are your sporting goals for 2021 and beyond?

Firstly, to minimise injury! I have also identified specific goals to achieve each year until I graduate, including in December to make the Australian Water Polo 16&U team after representing Queensland at the Nationals. I also want to participate at the 2022 Cadet World Championships. My goal after graduating from Flinders is to secure an Australian or USA scholarship, playing water polo, and hopefully studying Medicine. I will strive to make the Australian water polo team for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics. 

Q: What are your academic goals at Flinders? 
  • To make the most of all the amazing academic and co-curricular opportunities available to me 
  • To become a critical thinker
  • To always be prepared, on time and excel in my classes
  • To achieve an excellent GPA to secure an Australian/USA University/College scholarship and play water polo!
Q:. What support are you enjoying through FEAP? 
  • Having a mentor at school who understands and has helped me to organise my school and sporting life.   
  • The regular group workshops and guest speakers are beneficial both at school, in my sports and in life in general.
  • I travel to Brisbane 4-5 times a week. Being able to drop an elective in favour of a study period has helped ease the conflicting pressures and allowed me to achieve excellent results in my first semester.
Q: What new skills and strategies are you learning?

I've appreciated learning new tools and mentoring that help me to balance my school and sport, and to work on them at the same time. Last year, I had my school work to complete, and then my sport on top of that. It was very stressful to be separately managing the competing priorities. The FEAP program has shown me that there are ways to be organised and manage it all together, which means my social/free time is guilt-free!

Q: Do you have a favourite FEAP workshop so far? 

Olympian rower, Bo Hanson’s workshop on ‘mindset and the power of grit’. Bo shared many examples of how to succeed in sport and in life by being disciplined and spending time and effort training your mental toughness, not just your physicality.

Q: What else have you enjoyed about FEAP? 

It’s been good to have someone to talk to other than my immediate circle; people who understand the disappointment of events being cancelled over the past year due to the lockdowns and restrictions. I’m also excited about the new Sunshine Coast Sports Institute @ Flinders Fitness Centre program, and will explore this next term.

Q: Tell us about your sporting role model.

My first swim coach, Janelle Pallister is a swimming Olympian and top Australian Coach. I have so much gratitude for all the time Janelle has given to me over the years, both as my coach and friend. She is a strong female role model and has taught me that talent alone will not get you to the top. Anyone can have talent, but the things that make a difference are:
- being on time
- making an effort
- bringing high energy to a session
- having a positive attitude
- using good body language
- being coachable
- doing a little extra
- being prepared, and
- having a strong work ethic.

Visit the Flinders Elite Athlete Program page here to learn more about this new program to support our student athletes at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.

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