Brook Walker – 2016 Sports Administrator of the Year 

Background

  • Starting rowing in 2009; and rowed for Wellington College until his final year in 2012.
  • Began studying at Victoria in 2014.
  • Shortly after starting at Victoria, he signed up for the rowing club and from there he continued rowing.

He says, 'I met a guy called Jack at University and found we rowed well together. In 2015 we made the NZ University Team [NZ University Trans-Tasman Team]. This was kind of surreal when we went to Brisbane, competed and won the series.'

  • Within two months he had a break, came back to the sport and decided after seven years of rowing, that he wanted to quit competing. However, within a week he was coaching – this all happened this time last year in September.

‘I decided to coach with Sean Durkin, the 2014 and 2015 Blues Sports Administrator of the Year. We coached at Wellington College. At the time, Sean was the president of Vic Uni Rowing Club. At this point I had just been appointed Vic Uni Club Captain.

Brook's top tip everyone can apply to succeed

'Make sure you keep a bit of a life-balance. Make sure you’re not only in your own little world of whatever you’re pursuing. It gives you a little more perspective, and more importantly, a better understanding of the phrase 'a storm in a tea cup.'

Where everyone has a fair chance to go for gold

Making sure that everyone has a fair chance to compete and be involved in sport is Brook's main focus supporting young athletes to succeed. Whether it’s the university rowing club, school kids, whomever, making sure everyone has a good opportunity to be involved is Brook's bottom line.

'In my opinion everyone is welcome to compete and have a fair chance to be involved in sport.'

In addition to fairness, giving back is what fuels Brook's passion

'Giving back motivates me. I’ve had quite a few coaches over time who I’ve learned from. You pick up some real pearls of wisdom along the way. Giving back is an important part of the sport and its success, because almost everyone is a volunteer. You’re motivated to turn up and give back what’s been passed on, you don’t turn up to force athletes to get medals.'

Competing priorities, and some shrewd leveraging 

For Brook there always seemed to be times when everything was due at the same time. However, he was determined to do what was required of him to get the job done, no excuses.

'Somehow, for me, it would also coincide with the club having a regatta, or something else. You need to be prepared to pull some all-nighters, or experience a few short sleeps to get what you need done.'

With so many competing priorities, Brook learnt to leverage from his networks to ensure he didn't drop the ball on any one priority or task he committed to. 

'Building relationships and getting more involved in the sport has allowed me to somewhat leverage off other clubs I’ve been involved in. It seemed the more I got involved, the easier things became in a way.' 

Being at university has really helped Brook become even more self motivated. 

'I think Vic has helped me understand that you have to be self-motivated. At secondary school they take attendance and your parents are informed if you’re missing classes...It makes you realise you have to be across everything.' 

Burning the candle at both ends, and finding balance in between

Competing in sport has taught Brook much more than how to win. It's taught him that if he puts his mind to it, and follows through, he can achieve his goals – no matter how difficult. 

'I feel like it’s [sport] taught me that you can do early mornings and late nights. In the same way the importance of really balancing things. It’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. You still need to spend time with your friends, do your assignments, coach or whatever it is. The more involved you get in these clubs, the easier it is to be consumed by it all.'

Work hard – it's not all about talent

Brook is inspired by so many people, especially the stories of people who have succeeded. 

'I’ll read an article about how hard someone has worked to get where they are, and it makes you appreciate them a lot more. It sort of motivates you. You understand it’s not some talent they have, but because they’ve working really hard.'

One of his most cherished stories is about Storm Uru though, if he really had to pick one. 

'He went to the Olympics in 2008 and 2012. Then got a scholarship to Oxford to complete an MBA. I trained with him for a couple of months in 2013, before he went to the university. He made the top eight and then won the Boat Race in 2014.

He was interviewed about his time in Oxford. Storm took on George Bridgewater’s mantra 'don’t sleep during the term, you can sleep in the holidays.' Although this isn’t literal, it does give some insight into what it takes to complete studies to that level while also training to make the Oxford eight.'

Pushing off the pontoons at Lake Karapiro and receiving black row suits – some cherished moments

In 2015 Brook competed against Australia with the NZ University Trans-Tasman Team in Brisbane. It was one of the highlights of his rowing career. Before Brisbane though, he trained at Lake Karapiro for a week. 

'Pushing off the pontoons at Lake Karapiro was quite a cool experience. It’s the training venue for all the New Zealand rowing teams that compete at World Championship regattas. 

Receiving our black row suits was also special. Everything up until that point felt normal, but it sort of changed when we raced. There was a feeling of executing the plan we made when we raced. It almost didn’t matter what we were feeling, we just had to produce the work.'

Summing it all up with the Blues

'This was my second time there [Blues Awards], but it was different because I was getting an award for admin not sport. It was cool to see some people at the awards – some of them are really good at what they do.

Having the Blues Awards at the Council Chamber this year was nice and it was a bit more intimate. I knew I was getting the Sporting Admin Blues Award, but to get the Admin of the Year was a surprise and I was very humbled to receive it. At the same time, it was slightly ironic. The week before I handed the cup into VUWSA because Sean [2015 Sports Administrator of the Year] was too busy to do it himself.'

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