Sam Gray juggles three high performance environments every day, as he moves between university, a law firm and the hockey field; studying, working and training.

The aspiring Kookaburra recognises the importance of education and having a career outside his goals of playing hockey in the green and gold.

“High performance sport does not last forever.

“You hit an age or are injury prone – there are so many uncontrollables. Having an education and a profession in the background, allows me to always feel like I am in control of what I want to do in my life.”

Sam Gray

Gray grew up and was educated in Lithgow, preferring to stay close to family than go to boarding school for his senior years.

“At Lithgow High, I had some great teachers who supported me to achieve as well as I could in high school.”

He has strong memories of photos of his siblings playing hockey in the living room – picking up a hockey stick aged three and ten years later making his first state representative team.

“If I had my time again, I would pick hockey. It’s not the most financially backed sport, but the friendships and experiences are invaluable.”

Accepting a scholarship with the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and a tertiary placement in Law with Macquarie University, Gray moved to Sydney.

“NSWIS was wonderful in supporting this transition – teaching me how to be a high performance athlete and combine sport with study and work.

The Institute has provided Sam with one on one consults, athlete education reimbursements to cover the costs of text books and special considerations letters to get extensions on assessments for when he is away playing hockey.

“The reality is you are away a lot and miss lectures and assessments. I always needed an extension letter and NSWIS provided this. The relationship NSWIS has with the university is really important to make this manageable.

“NSWIS has also been fantastic, in terms of well being. The AW&E officer can be the voice you need to negotiate with the head coach flexibility for work and training, so that you can keep your life outside of sport ticking over.”

Gray is currently working full time at Chambers Russell Lawyers, while studying and playing hockey, practicing commercial law and personal injury law as Senior Paralegal.

“I have four subjects left before I finish my degree at the end of the year. I find working and studying personally rewarding and engaging – the balance of working, going to uni and thinking about something other than sport. It’s another high performance environment.”

Careers Week runs across Australia from 13-19 May 2024.

Frances Cordaro, NSWIS

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