The student to become the teacher as Alicia goes Beyond the Boundary

27 February, 2012

South Australian wicket-keeper Alicia Dean has recently completed a work placement at Blackwood High School as part of the ACA's 'Beyond the Boundary' program.

An energetic and athletic player, Alicia is an important part of a rebuilding SA Scorpions outfit. The Fijian born left-hander, who has recently completed her tertiary studies in teaching, spent time at Blackwood and impressed to the extent that she has been offered a role there in Term 4.

We caught up with Alicia to talk about her placement...

Alicia your placement with the Beyond the Boundary program was at Blackwood High School. Tell us how that came about.
As part of my University program at the University of South Australia I was required to do three teaching placements over the four years. The Uni kindly placed me at Blackwood High School, which has an excellent Physical Education program and dedicated PE staff (my specialist area), and thankfully it is also one of the closest high schools in my area - therefore I could afford to have a sneaky extra few minutes in bed in the morning!

A lot of the cricketers involved in the program use it as a way to trial a new line of work but you were already studying to be a teacher. How did the placement complement your studies?
The ACA Beyond the Boundary program is a brilliant initiative, especially for my female cricketing cohorts who are generally working or studying at the same time as playing anyway - as opposed to looking for post cricketing careers. For the ACA to acknowledge this reality is such a positive for us. In my circumstance, it was a way for me to obtain financial reimbursement for a week of my six-week placement, which allowed me not to stress about my finances and immerse myself entirely into the teaching experience.

You've recently completed your degree, which must be very satisfying. How did you find juggling your studies with your cricket commitments?
You are correct in that it's one of the most satisfying things I've ever done, so much so that I'm contemplating further studies! In the early stages it was honestly fairly overwhelming, but again, the ACA have made the juggling act much less stressful on many levels. Time management is crucial; I think being an 'elite' athlete teaches you time management and efficiency- Do what you need to do well with the limited time you have. By being a part of the Elite athlete's program at my University (supported by the ACA) i have, on occasions where we've had national league or when I've been overseas playing for Fiji, been able to obtain a couple of extensions. Financially the burden has been immensely lifted by the ACA education grants which I've received for 3 years of my 4-year double degree. So all up i can say that instead of being a stressor or hindrance, representing my state in cricket has been a driving factor in me being able to pursue my career ambitions.

How important was the support provided by the ACA?
oops see above!
The ACA makes it ridiculously easy to access all the support on offer. The seasonal visits to our playing group by Roachy and Marshy reiterates what is available to us and encourages us to get on board. There are a wealth of things that we can tap into and I would strongly encourage all members to suss out what they might be able to access.

You must have impressed the 'powers that be' at Blackwood High; they've offered you a job! Tell us about that.
The teaching faculty at the school were pretty pleased with my efforts I guess, and have offered my a short contract in Term 4 when one of the staff members goes on leave- fairly chuffed really. like anything , if you put in the hard work rewards will come soon enough. Can't believe I'm going to get paid for doing something i love- seems a bit ridiculous but i am definitely not complaining!

Have you issued many detentions thus far?
Haha. No, not yet! I wrote out a few lunch time work detentions in front of a few kids as a bit of a threat for not handing up their homework but they managed to scrap together something.

What do you love about teaching?
I love seeing kids do well, especially after seeing them put the effort in. I'm a big believer in education= power, if I can help to give one student the tools to navigate the world outside the classroom with curiosity and an attitude that looks to make positive changes, then I'd be pretty satisfied. It's a bloody tough profession that encompasses many different roles, but when it goes right it's very rewarding.

Has any of what you've learnt been transferable to your cricket?
Interestingly there is a lot of skill transfer, the main ones being time management and maintaining professional relationships. As a keeper if I don't know my team mates and what makes them tick, then I cant possibly hope to keep them motivated or challenge and support them when they're struggling, same goes with teaching. If you don't know your students there is no hope in being able to get the best out of them and help them develop new skills.

The Scorpions have had a changing of the guard in recent seasons following the retirements of gun veteran Karen Rolton and Shelley Nitschke; how are things shaping up for 2012-13?
I'm going to see how many clichés I can fit in here:

There is no doubt that the retirement of almost half our squad over the last 2 seasons will play key factor in our success on the points table this summer. In saying that though, when one door closes another one opens and it will be up to the few senior players left to step up and fill the void left by such formidable players such as Karen and Shell. Plenty of opportunities will present themselves this season and with a significant number of youngsters getting the call up into our rookie list it, it will be exciting to see if the new breed of Scorps can take their opportunities with both hands. If we can do the basics well, we'll be competitive on any given day but i believe this is a rebuilding phase for our squad. It's going to take patience but hopefully we can all stick together and make the most out of what we would like to call an exciting changing of the guard for women's cricket in South Australia.

Who are some of the players to watch out for this season?
Megan Schutt will spearhead our pace attack and will no doubt be looking to impress the National selectors. She's a youn gun who's made the most of her opportunities thus far and would now be deemed as a senior player.

If given the call up a couple of our rookies could also excite; Tahlia McGrath made her debut last season for the black and red and I'm sure will be given a few more overs and bat in the middle order, whilst Sam Betts hailing form Broken Hill is looking really fit and ready to rip into a few opposition batters with her fast/meds. Both the kids are in Aussie Youth Squads so the future looks pretty bright.

What are your own goals for the summer ahead?
It's going to be an interesting season for me now that I've entered the teaching profession. I've never had to work full time while I've been a player so managing my time and using cricket as an outlet rather than a pressure could be a good tactic. Looking to bat a bit higher this season and build up an innings and set a high standard in the field for the girls.

What would you say is your biggest strength?
I do the things that go unnoticed

What's something quirky or amusing we don't know about Alicia Dean?
I can't cook rice but I do get sunburnt.

© Australian Cricket Players Limited
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
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