For 27-year-old Gold Coast Titans hooker Daniel Mortimer, having a career to fall back on after he hung up his football boots was always at the forefront of his mind, thanks to the wise advice from his father Peter of 1980s Canterbury Bulldogs fame.
“My dad is my greatest influence and often spoke to me about the importance of having something to lean on after playing professional football. I grew up with a lot of people around me that didn’t have that luxury, so it was important to me to have a game plan in place,” Daniel said.
“I always had a passion and love for rugby league. It’s such a huge part of my family’s history, but I was also aware a professional league career only lasts so long.”
Daniel said it was his PE Teacher from James Sheahan Catholic High School in Orange that left him intrigued by the world of teaching.
“He was that teacher you will always remember who helped me personally so much, and it was through that experience I thought teaching was something I’d love to do after footy to help others the same way,” he said.
This led to Daniel enrolling at the Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE) to study the Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education) in 2008, the same degree completed by his brother Tim.
Shortly after commencing Daniel was called on to play first grade with the Parramatta Eels, an opportunity that saw him forge his name and play in the 2009 Grand Final. However, his newfound schedule well and truly clashed with his study commitments and the rising star realised he needed to put his hand up fast.
“I sat down with ACPE and together we worked out a course of action. The team supported me to switch to part-time study, spoke with my teachers to make sure they were aware of my commitments and gave me the freedom to ask for extra time to complete assignments or change my study schedule if I was away or busy with training,” Daniel said.
“They were also extremely supportive when I relocated to the Gold Coast to continue my career with the Titans, and helped me juggle both commitments until I graduated earlier this year.”
Daniel said his experience proved to him ACPE had both the dedication and systems in place to help facilitate professional athletes to succeed on and off the field.
“They have such a great reputation in the sporting and education community for a good reason. If they hadn’t taken me under their wing like that I would have probably had to pull out of my studies.”
Daniel said the ACPE Bachelor of Education’s strong practical focus became quickly apparent and proved a lifesaver down the track.
“You don’t realise how handy the practical side is until you’re in front of a classroom doing a placement and you’re able to draw on that experience to deliver lessons with confidence and engage with the students,” Daniel said.
The star player said he expects having the option to step into relief teaching on the Gold Coast would come in handy as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
“My background in professional sport has definitely helped with my teaching, as I can weave in what I’ve learned from the physical and health side to share with students – everything from the training and nutrition to the mental preparation and focus needed to perform at the highest level,” Daniel said.
“These areas are my passion so it makes teaching them very easy for me.”
The Titans are Daniel’s third NRL club following stints at Parramatta and the Roosters, where he helped win the 2013 premiership.
In September 2016 Daniel was named in the NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year for a second time, and acknowledgement of the dedication shown to balancing his studies with football commitments.
Is teaching your dream career? View details about ACPE’s Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education).