Hockeyroo Goalkeeper Rachael Lynch dialled into a virtual classroom at Strathmore Secondary College after she returned from the Tokyo Olympics, as part of the Victorian Institute of Sport’s ‘Be Fit. Be Well’ program.
Angella Davis, Health & Physical Education Leader at Strathmore Secondary College said it was a unique experience for her students.
“Many students would never have met an Olympian or had the opportunity to speak to someone and ask them questions about the Olympics,” Davis said.
“Rach shared several stories about herself and also observations of other athletes. She shared stories of good sportspersonship she witnessed at the Olympics. It was great to get her perspective on how athletes were inspiring to her and what she admired in them.”
Lynch also shared the difficulties she had to face in maintaining a work, sport and life balance and how important it was to her to have a job away from hockey.
For the past 10 years, Lynch has worked as a nurse one day a week alongside her elite hockey career. When the Olympics got pushed back a year it allowed her to move to the front line of the fight against COVID-19 full-time.
A 2016 Olympian, two-time Commonwealth Games Gold medallist and World Cup Silver medallist, the list of Lynch’s accolades is long. Not to mention she is the most-capped goalkeeper for the Hockeyroos and was named 2019 FIH Goalkeeper of the year.
Lynch values the other areas in her life than sport and has jumped at any opportunity she gets to inspire others.
“Athletes have a platform to share their story and I think it is important to use that,” Lynch said.
“I like to share the importance of being a good person. I want to be a good person first and then an athlete”.
A proud Victorian and a long term Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder, Lynch has been based in Western Australia with the Australian Hockey program for over a decade, and has not had the chance to be involved in the VIS’ Be Fit. Be Well program before. When the program went online it gave Lynch the opportunity to connect with Victorian schools.
“It was great to jump on a call with a Victorian school, which I normally wouldn’t be able to do being based in Perth,” Lynch said.
“I have a very strong connection to Victoria and am a proud Victorian. I know that Victorians have had a hard time and I want to help and give back in any way that I can.”
What made it even more special for Lynch was that one of her friends was one of the teachers organising from school. This was not planned, and Lynch’s friend got in touch ahead of the online meeting and said she was going to be on the call.
The two key messages that Lynch shared with the students were “how you define success” and “how to put perspective on things”. She shared stories of joy and happiness that didn’t relate to winning medals.
“Success doesn’t have to tie into winning medals,” Lynch said.
Davis also appreciated the messages relating to everyday life outside of sport,
“Rach shared how important it was to maintain contact with family and friends when moving interstate and traveling”.
“She demonstrated that being an elite athlete has many challenges and she has been able to overcome those challenges,” Davis said.
The Victorian Institute of Sport’s (VIS) ‘Be Fit. Be Well’ program, which has been running for more than 20 years, encourages primary and secondary school students to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle.
The program helps to promote physical activity and its links to wellbeing, and features live virtual classroom chats and pre-recorded presentations with elite athletes from the Victorian Institute of Sport.
Key topics are tailored for specific school year levels and include motivation, resilience, goal setting, coping with pressure, health and nutrition.
The ‘Be Fit. Be Well’ program is free for government schools, with funding from School Sport Victoria (SSV). Non-government schools can also participate for a fee.