Leo Hurley selected for the World University Games

Monash University’s own Leo Hurley has been selected to represent Australia at the World University Games in water polo.

An extremely proud moment for Leo, one he shared with his parents calling them immediately after receiving the good news.

“It is an honour to play for Australia and represent my supporters from my club, former coaches and teammates, friends and family, especially at a large international event like the Universiade. It makes me appreciate the unique opportunities I’ve been given by training harder and playing fair.”

Leo played for the Victorian Seals in the National Water Polo League in 2016 and currently plays for Melbourne Collegians in Victoria’s state competition.

Whilst playing in the Olympics would be a “dream come true,” for Leo, his immediate aspirations are to play club water polo in Europe furthering his development as a player, in addition to experiencing a different culture.

Leo is also completing a Bachelor of Music with a specialisation in jazz improvisation, despite it being challenging to balance studies and sport Leo is making the best out of the situation.

“It requires a big commitment to manage my time well and regularly sacrifice being with friends and family to train and play, but playing sport has always been a rewarding and healthy experience for me so I never view my commitment to water polo in a negative light.”

Leo is part of the Monash Elite Student Performer Scheme, which helps students coordinate their sporting and academic schedule.

“Being a member of Monash’s Elite Student Performer Scheme has given me access to Monash’s training facilities and some financial assistance, both of which are of great help. The program also offers me flexibility to better manage my studies when heavy periods of training or competitions arise.”

We wish Leo all the best as he competes at the World University Games.

#bleedblue #teammonash #monashpride 

Heart of a Saint, plays like a warrior - Daniel McKenzie

Round 23, 2016, Daniel McKenzie playing against the Brisbane Lions, attempting to spoil the ball. Picture: AFL Media.

At pick 22 in the 2014 AFL draft, the St. Kilda football club selected Daniel McKenzie from the Oakleigh Chargers.

Having your name called out on draft night is every footballers dream, simply trying to imagine what he was feeling that night is impossible.

Despite being earmarked for a promising career, McKenzie wants to be defined by more than being an AFL player.

McKenzie is currently completing a science degree at Monash University, hoping to become a physio in the future, combining his interest in science and sport.

Uni is great as no one knows I play AFL so I can escape from the constant football conversations. It adds to my identity outside of being just an AFL player.”

“It’s kind of funny, when I was younger a larger proportion of my time was dedicated to school, and football was a great way to get away from thinking about VCE.”

“Now it's the complete opposite, football takes up most of my week and Uni is a great way to get away from the physical and mental stress of hours of training and thinking about upcoming selection.”

Keeping up with university classes and assessments is difficult even for the most diligent students, let alone an AFL player with a busy training schedule, interstate travel and club commitments.

Daniel McKenzie in training for the St. Kilda. Picture: AFL Media

McKenzie emphasised the importance of managing time, which is easier said than done.

“Time management is key, it's important to get work done while you’ve got the time, there will be stages during the semester where multiple assessments are due which can overlap with busy periods in the footy schedule, like interstate travel or multiple long days in a row.”

McKenzie attributes his academic interests and pursuits to his parents who are both maths teachers.

“I would say they are one of the factors as to why I’m doing a Science degree,” said McKenzie.

Support from his parents has been crucial for McKenzie with his education and his development as an elite footballer.

“On the football side of things, they’ve been really good about everything, they never put pressure on me to make any rep side or state side or get drafted.”

“They were just there supporting me and have been coming to nearly every game I’ve played.”

Their support certainly paid off with McKenzie being given a rave review by his coach Alan Richardson, highlighting Mckenzie's abilties on the field, in addition to his genuine good nature off the field.

He’s one of those kids that if you meet him off the footy field you’d want him to marry your daughter because he’s a nice, respectful young man, but as soon as he crosses that white line he turns into an animal and we love that,” said coach Richardson.

Naturally, like anyone who has ever picked up a Sherrin, the ultimate dream is to win a Premiership.
However, McKenzie right now has one priority.

“I want to get into the senior team and cement my spot, which would involve getting bigger, stronger and working on my kick,” said McKenzie.

Daniel McKenzie celebrating after kicking his first AFL goal against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Media.

McKenzie has been blessed by being able to learn from some of the greats of the game.

“It’s unreal playing under guys like Riewoldt, Montagna and Geary.”

“They are such inspiring leaders who’ve helped me develop my game enormously.”

“Montagna and Geary are two guys I look up to the most at the club as they play the same position as me and have guided me a lot so far, they are guys who get around the younger guys and show a lot of care around the club.”

Coach Alan Richardson recognises that, as with all young players, there is a lot to develop, but Coach Richardson loves the upside of McKenzie.

He’s got a lot of improvement in many facets of his play, but what we saw in the back end of the year (2016) we’re excited by,” said Coach Richardson.

When McKenzie is not busy being an AFL player or a student, he likes to unwind with some good TV shows, music and occasionally playing PlayStation with his mates.

“I love going to live music gigs and festivals, Sticky Fingers, Flight Facilities, Childish Gambino, Arctic Monkeys or Catfish and the Bottlemen are my go to bands/artists,” reflected McKenzie.

“I also can’t look past a good binge of Suits, Game of Thrones or True Detective.”

McKenzie also loves to travel, having been to Japan in the off-season he plans to continue exploring new places around the world.

Team Monash wishes Daniel McKenzie all the best with his AFL career and his Science degree.

#bleedblue #teammonash 

Empowering women to break boundaries - Aira Abarra


It is refreshing to see someone go against the grain of society to follow their passion.

Remarkable is the first word that comes to mind when describing Aira.

Whilst currently completing her studies in nursing and midwifery, Aira is also competing as a professional powerlifter.

Traditionally a male dominated sport, Aira is part of a generation of women who are shattering the traditional mould of women athletes, and establishing a pathway for young girls all over the world to follow their dreams.

“I would love to be part of the movement to increase the representation of women in powerlifting.”

“I hope I could be a relatable role model and assist others to achieve their strength goals in a sustainable way.”

Aira posing for a podium photo after finishing second in the World Bench Press Championship. Picture: Aira Abarra. 

The future, according to Aira, looks promising with “more women getting comfortable in the free weights section in the gym and competition entries slowly rising.”

Community is key for Aira, being surrounded by people who are both accepting and encouraging of women in male dominated sports.

Aira is part of the Elite Student Performers Scheme (ESPS) at Monash University.

She explained that being acknowledged by Monash University for her sporting achievements proved to be an “empowering affirmation."

“The ESPS also offered a dinner which was more than a networking opportunity, I felt less alone in my endeavour to juggle a double life.”

The University has recognised her athletic ability, supporting her both financially and academically.

Aira received an Elite Student Performer Scheme Grant this year to support her endeavours to be a professional powerlifter. 

The grant she received will be put towards improving her training with the use of specialist equipment and more frequent program reviews.

Aira did not shy away from the struggles of being both a student and an elite athlete.

“I am consumed by assessment tasks and uni hurdles, all the while ruminating on gym programs, maintaining optimal rest and nutrition, throw in placement and my life can get chaotic to say the least.”

Receiving support from the faculty of nursing and midwifery has helped me find that balance, in particular Gayle McLelland has been wonderful.

However, Aira wouldn’t trade it for anything, “I am not sure I can envision my life without powerlifting, it has instilled resilience and perseverance.”

What does the future hold for Aira?

Having finished second at the World Bench Press Championship in Texas, held during April, Aira is looking to go from strength to strength.

Aira has her eyes firmly on Nationals in August, “I am eager for my new total to let me move from Elite II to Elite I.”

“I am also hoping to represent Australia once again in the Oceania Championships in Singapore.”

Being her last year in the junior age category Aira is looking to make her mark in the sport “I want to break the national and Oceania bench press records for my weight class.”

We are sure Aira will achieve great things with her attitude and hard work.

All of Monash University is right behind you Aira!

#bleedblue #teammonash

Connecting with culture, Indigenous University Games is more than a sporting event

The 2017 Indigenous University Games presents an opportunity for indigenous students from across Australia to come together and compete in a variety in sports.

An event which encompasses more than sport, however, there is a real focus around connecting with those from the same cultural background.

Team Organiser Robyn Oxley said, “the Indigenous University Games extend the strong cultural traditions of community gathering.”

“It enables a connection from the Yulendj Indigenous Engagement Unit with broader Universities around Australia.”

“It is an opportunity for Indigenous students to network with other Indigenous University students and staff while showcasing some of our sporting and social talents.”

“The Indigenous University Games is an inclusive event that captures the Indigenous cohort and being able to represent Yulendj and Monash University is an absolute privilege that will be preserved for many generations of Yulendj Indigenous students, to come.”

The 2016 team photo. Picture: TeamMONASH

Monash student and returning Indigenous Athlete Liam Ketchup is very passionate about the Indigenous University Games.

Liam identified the focal point of the event “it’s an opportunity to play sport and connect with my culture, people who have the same interests and beliefs as you.”

It is also an opportunity for those within the Monash team to grow together.

“Everyone in the team comes together, we have trained together and we have become closer,” said Liam.

“It is a chance to consolidate the relationships you’ve created, and surround yourself with people from the same culture, we all support and look out for each other.”

The Indigenous University Games will be held in Geelong, June 25 – 29.

Each university team will compete in a different sport each day, Basketball – Monday, Netball – Tuesday, Volleyball – Wednesday, and Touch – Thursday.

Monash University competing in the Netball at the 2016 Indigenous University Games.
Picutre: Australian University Sport.

Liam has outlined Monash’s ambitions.

“We are an all-round team, with lots of strong individuals with great athletic ability, said Liam.

“We’d love to take out a sport, in particular basketball, our team has a few very strong basketball players.”

Monash has made it a habit of improving their results each year, Liam highlighted the significance of improving on their overall finish from last year.

“It’s important that we improve on last year, maintain the trend, and continue to set a high standard to aim for each year.”

Monash University wishes the team heading to the Indigenous University Games all the best as they both compete in the sporting competitions and connect with other indigenous students from around Australia.

#bleedblue #teammonash

Gunning for gold, ultimate frisbee built for success

Monash University has a tradition of success in ultimate frisbee, one which will hopefully be continued at the 2017 Southern University Games.

Held in Geelong, from July 2 – 6, it is the perfect opportunity for student athletes to compete in a participation based event against like-minded students from across the south region: Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Games has built up a reputation as an event not to be missed, attracting over 1,800 competitors each year.

Monash University will send two Ultimate Frisbee teams to the competition.

Monash Ultimate Frisbee (MUF) Blue represents the pinnacle of Ultimate at Monash University.

Coming off a tough loss last year, losing the eventual winning team in the semis and coming third, MUF Blue is making a bid for the top spot in 2017.

A combined team photo with both the MUF blue team and the MUF white team.
Picture: Monash Ultimate Frisbee (MUF)

Boasting a strong roster of both veterans and rookies, the team fields 1 former national athlete, 6 current national squad members and 8 former state athletes.

In addition to local grown talent, the team has enlisted the help of two Monash Malaysia players - both who currently are part of the Malaysian national squad.

Not only does MUF blue have a wealth of experience, the team has also given 4 upcoming rookies the chance to prove themselves on the big stage.

Armed with athleticism, good fundamentals and a passion to improve, the new recruits look to make their mark.

Bringing up the vanguard, the club has signed on the help of past club member, former national athlete, 2-time University Games Gold medallist Declan Frey as the coach.

Under his leadership, the team seeks to implement high level strategy to defeat our main rivals this year at Melbourne and Deakin University.

MUF Blue team photo. Picture: Monash Ultimate Frisbee (MUF)

With this combination of talent, experience and good leadership, MUF Blue aims to put Monash University at the top and prove to be the best team at SUGs.

The second team Monash University will be sending to compete in the ultimate frisbee competition is the MUF White tea,.

They are Monash’s developing, mixed Ultimate Frisbee team, made up of up-and-coming players looking to make an impact at Southern University Games.

They may be young, but they are hoping to make heads turn and establish themselves as a team to look out for in future tournaments.

For many of the guys and gals, this will be their first frisbee tournament, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for Wes Flavell with some long throws and Stevie Thomas, quick on defence.

MUF white team photo. Picture: Monash Ultimate Frisbee (MUF)

What about the girls?

Many would have had at least their first Ultimate Frisbee experience at Australian University Games last year.

They faced some tough competition, but after a full women’s season over the summer they’re coming back strong, ready to lead MUF White into some more tough battles at SUGs.

It won’t be hard to spot Shannon Newn cutting through the end zone, or Miranda Cowley, new to the sport, but a natural on defence.

They’re a strong team on the rise so keep your eyes out for them, because according to team “we’re looking to impress.”

Good luck to both teams competing at Southern University Games, Go Monash!

#bleedblue #teammonash

Great Britain hits a Homerun with Monash University’s Ashleigh Carolan


The significance of the local park is often forgotten, a magical place where legends are born, limited only by their imagination.

For Ashleigh Carolan, Jells Park, in Melbourne’s South East, holds a special place in her heart.

“A friend from school invited me down to the local association at Jells Park," said Ashleigh.

After my first season learning all of the basic skills: batting, throwing and catching, combined with the strategy involved, made me realise that softball was the sport for me.”

Jells Park was merely the beginning of Ashleigh’s journey.

2015 saw all her hard work and dedication pay off as she was selected in the Great Britain softball team.

Ashleigh batting against Brazil in the Youth World Champs, in America. Picture: Ashleigh Carolan

“Having grown up in England it was always my dream to one day play for my country, so when I was selected in the team I was overwhelmed with pride and joy.”

Ashleigh competed in the 2015 World Junior Softball Championships, an experience she described as no other.

“The experience of playing on the world stage is truly indescribable.”

The 2015 tournament laid down the foundation for Ashleigh to launch her Softball career.

Advance 2 years and Ashleigh has once again been selected in the Great Britain team competing at the XII Junior World Softball Championships, in Clearwater Florida 24th-31st July.

Ashleigh a the catch in the Youth World Champs. Picture: Ashleigh Carolan

The 2017 Junior World Softball Championships presents Great Britain with an opportunity to 
improve on their 2015 tournament.

We are aiming to finish in the top 8 out of the 26 competing nations from all 5 Olympic regions.”

Whilst we are sure she’ll hit the winning Home run in the final, Ashleigh is not getting carried away.

“I am looking forward to playing my part for the team whether that is on or off the field.”

Her modesty will hold her in good stead as she looks to the future.

An action shot of Ashleigh batting at the Youth World Champs.
Picture: Ashleigh Carolan

The talented softball player “hopes to attend the Junior Softball European Championships in 2018, and help Great Britain defend their title after winning the tournament last year.”

Ashleigh is also looking forward to representing Monash at the Australian University Games. 

Currently undertaking a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine, Ashleigh’s experience at the highest level will prove invaluable to a team chasing Gold.

This is all part of Ashleigh’s grand plan.

With Softball being added to the Japan 2020 Olympic program, Ashleigh has her eyes firmly set on helping Great Britain qualify for the Games, and “perhaps one day play at the Olympics.”

“The future really is limitless,” what started as a dream in the local park, could have endless possibilities, which is exciting for Ashleigh.

We at Monash University wish Ashleigh the best of luck with the Junior World Softball Championships, and all that the future holds for the talented Softball player.

Go get ‘em Ashleigh!


The 2017 Varsity Challenge Review

The 2017 Varsity Challenge went down the wire. Monash had a point to prove after narrowly going down in 2016, the drive to regain our rightful trophy was clear to see.


Cricket – Monash won by 65 runs

TeamMONASH reclaiming the overall 2017 Varsity Challenge
over the University of Melbourne. Picture:
Melbourne University Sport. 
Badminton women – Melbourne won 2 – 2

Badminton men – Monash won 2 – 1

Basketball women – Monash won 54 – 33

Basketball men – Monash won 69 – 65

Soccer women – Melbourne won 9 – 0

Soccer men – Melbourne won 2 - 1

Ultimate Frisbee – Monash won 13 – 8

Table tennis women – Monash won 2 – 1

Table tennis men – Monash won 3 – 0

Volleyball women – Melbourne won 2 – 1

Volleyball men – Melbourne won 3 – 0

Touch football – Melbourne won 6 – 5

Hockey women – Monash won 2 – 1

Hockey men – Melbourne won 2 – 1

Monash reclaimed the Varsity Challenge trophy, winning 8 – 7 overall.

Player Reflections

The 2017 Varsity Challenge proved to be a memorable one.

With Melbourne staging a late and dramatic comeback on the final day of competition, Monash held its nerve to bring home the overall trophy 8 wins to 7.

Monash started off strong with a convincing win in the cricket.

Monash’s cricket captain Sachin Varadarajan reviewed the match “I think we dominated right through. I was really happy with our opening total, 180 should win most T20 matches."

“We also backed up our total with brilliant bowling, taking 3 wickets in the first 2 overs.”

“It was a very enjoyable match to play, made better by the convincing win.”

The Monash University cricket team in the 2017 T20 Varsity Challenge cricket game. Picture: TeamMONASH

Olympian table tennis player and Monash’s very own Heming Hu competed in the Varsity challenge, helping Monash to take out the Men’s table tennis.

"The game was actually quite tough to start with, said Heming.

“I grew up playing a fair bit with my opponent from Melbourne who's a very talented player and has represented Victoria in many occasions at the junior and senior national championships.”

“I felt like I had to win that match because of expectations, the conditions were definitely interesting.”

Monash University's Heming Hu returning serve against his University of Melbourne opponent. Picture: Michael Hoang.

“It was loud, crowded and heated, which was fun but difficult to play in.”

“The first set Steven (University of Melbourne) came out swinging hard at me and I lost the first set quite easily and knew I had to fight hard to get through.

“I started to tighten my game up and grovelled through to get a comfortable 3-1 win after that.”

Monash’s table tennis squad was littered with high-class players, including Rossa To who will be competing for Australia at the World University Games later this year.

She commented on the quality of the competition saying that the “standard of talent was high.”

Rossa said she had connection to the competition as she “felt special to be part of a new history.”

Rossa To serving in the 2017 Varsity Challenge against University of Melbourne. Picture: Michael Hoang.

Monash’s men’s soccer team looked for revenge over a quality Melbourne side who beat them in the gold medal match in Perth.

Both Monash and Melbourne added several high-profile players, with Monash bringing in dominant midfielder Ryan Losty from NPL2 side Eastern Lions.

Ryan reviewed the game saying “We dominated possession, unlucky for us not to get the result. Looking to better them up on the Gold Coast.”

Ryan was unlucky not to score an unbelievable goal to seal a dramatic comeback, instead his shot, from well outside the box, hit the crossbar.

Midfield Thomas Lakic dribbling the ball in the Varsity Challenge against the University of Melbourne. Picture: TeamMONASH

Hockey produced two heart stopping results.

The men looked to have wrapped up the game, having lead for much of the game.

Veteran player Charles Norbury said the “Game was a typically tight affair, with Monash controlling the game for much of it.”

“As is often the case, Melbourne came back late and scored twice to clinch victory.”

The men unfortunately lost in the dying seconds.

However, it was the women’s hockey team who, against all odds, came away with an unlikely victory.

Charles reflected on the game for TeamMONASH and said, “Without a recognised keeper, Monash took the unusual step of playing without a goal keeper for the whole match.”

“To their credit, despite conceding an early goal the girls worked their way back into the game, scoring late to win 2-1.”

Despite the signs showing that Melbourne would make an improbable comeback, the win, by the girl’s hockey team, ensured that Monash would reclaim the Varsity Challenge trophy.



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