Master of Sport, Exercise and Health student
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Sport and Exercise Science
For Tom Cooper, a conversation with a lecturer in his first year at university would prove to be life-changing and help him discover a new passion.
“I can still recall my first conversation with Associate Professor Chris Whatman, part way through the first year of my Bachelor of Sport and Recreation. Before this conversation I hadn’t really thought much about the youth side of elite sport and how young athletes have to tread so carefully through the growth phases to avoid injury while trying to learn how to control their body and how it moves.”
It’s a topic that has fascinated him ever since, and for his Master of Sport, Exercise and Health Tom is now focusing on youth football. His master’s degree research is supervised by Associate Professor Chris Whatman from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.
“My research will be analysing the maturation selection bias that is present in New Zealand youth football. This is a very interesting space because it’s almost a blank canvas as far as New Zealand specific literature goes. The aim of my research is to provide some insights into how we can keep more athletes in their chosen sport by understanding the influence biological maturation has on team selection.”
Taking the next step
Having initially come to AUT to study a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, Tom didn’t hesitate when the opportunity of postgraduate study came up.
“I decided to continue my study journey with AUT in the postgraduate space because of the expert mentors and opportunities that AUT provides. I wanted to have the chance to continue working with my supervisor, and enjoy access to the helpful network of industry professionals and facilities at AUT Millennium.”
Now specialising in strength and conditioning for his Master of Sport, Exercise and Health, he hopes to further his understanding of human movement and muscular performance.
“The aim is to provide myself with the knowledge and applicable skills to aid in the development of youth athletes through strength and conditioning.”
Tom says he would highly recommend postgraduate study in sport and recreation to others, especially those interested in bridging the gap between the academic theory and the practical side of sport and exercise science.
“I’ve enjoyed the high-quality and involved learning that occurs within each of the courses. I feel that they provide me with the fundamental skills to turn the theory into a practical tool I can use to benefit those I work with. The inclusive and helpful university environment is also a great benefit as it’s easy to ask industry-leading professionals questions about their work.”
Expecting to complete his master’s degree in 2022, Tom already knows how he sees his future.
“After my master’s degree, I’m planning to move from part-time to full-time work in the Athlete Development Academy at AUT Millennium, and possibly start exploring the clinical side in regard to injury rehabilitation.”