Cheer for the teacher

Master of Teaching candidate represents Australia on the world cheerleading stage.

Master of Teaching (Secondary) candidates are busy people, managing a packed schedule of placements and study. Elite cheerleader Natalie Commons is even busier than most, representing Australia on the world stage while studying to be a PE teacher.

“Juggling 10 - 15 hours of training a week with studying means I don’t have much spare time!” says 26-year-old Natalie. “But I’ve had good support from the University, as well as great support at home, which makes it possible to have such a busy schedule.”

In April, Natalie was Vice Captain of Team Australia at the ICU World Cheerleading Championships in Florida – affectionately known in the cheerleading community as the ‘cheer Olympics’. Team Australia came third.

“Standing on the podium representing my country was a fantastic experience” says Natalie. “We worked really hard leading up to the championships, training five nights a week, so it was great when the hard work paid off.”

Natalie received support from the University through the Elite Athlete Support program, which provided a gym membership and travel sponsorship and helped organise her studies around the championships. Her placement school, Kilbreda College, were also supportive, allowing Natalie to complete her block placement on her return from the U.S.

Cheerleading has taught Natalie quite a few lessons that she plans to draw on as a teacher. “I didn’t start cheerleading until I was 21, so I’d like to pass on to my students that it’s never too late to achieve your goals. if you work hard you can achieve,” says Natalie.

“I’ve also developed good life skills from cheerleading. Our squad has girls aged between 14 and 29, so I’ve learned to work with different age groups, and to support the younger girls while they’re away from home in situations that can be stressful. It’s also useful to interact with Secondary students as a peer, rather than a teacher – that’s taught me a lot that I can apply in the classroom!”