One straight shooter contributing to ACPE’s elite athletes’ success

by frank-stuart

When Parramatta Eels Captain Tim Mannah graduated from ACPE after 10 years, he credited Maureen Rocha for getting him through the final challenging years. It’s these moments that make it all worthwhile for Maureen.


As the ACPE Student Services and Learning Support Manager, Maureen is the person on call 24/7 if elite athletes like Tim need assistance with their studies.

“These athletes have so many aspects of their sports career managed for them – training, travel and nutrition. It makes sense that they might need some help keeping track of their studies,” Maureen said. “I make sure they know that someone is here to support them.”

This means getting to know the athletes early in their degree and offering them practical help to organise their studies around their sporting commitments. “They might need to change an exam date to get to an international competition,” Maureen explained. “They might need someone to map out how to spend enough time on their studies between training sessions. Or they might need help understanding a particular assessment.”


Every day is different for Maureen and her team as they manage the athletes’ requests, run workshops and teach in foundation units at ACPE. Her focus is particularly on the 60 male and female students who are part of ACPE’s Elite Athlete and Coach Program. They represent Australia or play at a national level in different sports from judo to rugby.

“It can take a lot of time and energy to look after them – especially around assessment time – but I always remember sport is their livelihood. It’s their career on the line,” Maureen said. “I’m a straight shooter so I always explain what I expect of them and what they can expect of me. In my experience, the athletes really appreciate the extra assistance.”


“Whenever they pass an assignment or exam or when they come and say ‘thank you’ I feel like I’ve contributed in some small way to their success. That makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

Every year the Rugby League Players Association recognise a team of players who have excelled in their studies while pursuing their sport. This year, the RLPA acknowledged three players who studied at ACPE – Damien Cook, Jamie Buhrer and Tim Mannah. Maureen was right there to applaud them. “They really deserved it,” she said, “They put in the hard work.” The three players all agree that Maureen puts in the hard work too.


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