When Ian Fitzpatrick joined UWA around two and a half years ago, he wasn’t exactly ‘new’ to the University. His first full-time job was selling gym memberships at UWA as an 18-year-old.
Now he’s UWA Sport’s General Manager, and after ten years away, returned to Perth for the role in 2015 when UWA Sport was established.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to move back to Perth - UWA is a special place for me. When UWA Sport was established, I knew the University’s commitment to sport was strong.
“That was definitely something I wanted to be part of and it has been a great experience over the last few years to see sport become a more integrated part of the UWA experience, especially for students,” he says.
It’s certainly been a busy time for Ian and his team and he says being able to work closely with other parts of the University and collaborate on projects is one of the highlights.
“Sport can make a tangible difference in a student’s life, and being able to partner and collaborate with schools, faculty and business areas has been really rewarding.
“We’re in a place now where we can offer students support no matter where they are on the sport/fitness continuum. They may be elite athletes, play social netball, or hit the gym five times a week. We really can accommodate all their needs, which is what we need to be doing.
It’s an exciting year for the team as they were recently nominated for a couple of awards at the Sport and Recreation Industry Awards.
“The Organisational Excellence award recognises the work we’ve done and dedication to our strategic priorities and what we’ve achieved – increased student participation, increased engagement and increased community participation.
“The Leadership award is recognition of our Sport Manager program which encourages leadership opportunities for staff and students which have multiple benefits in a team environment such creating a safe and respectful culture on and off the field,” he says.
For Ian himself, 2018 has been full of opportunities also. Earlier this year he was named the Chef de Mission for the World University Winter Games for 2019 and 2021, and he’ll also travel with the Australian Youth Olympics team to Argentina in September as a team manager.
“I was never good enough at any sport to be able to be paid for it. But I knew I wanted a career in it, however I also knew I wanted it to be varied.
“I’m lucky, because that’s exactly what I have now. Having these opportunities in Russia and Argentina are great because they allow me to help the next wave of administrators and students on and off the field.
“We have a lot of involvement with UniSport Australia, and when they were looking for a Chef de Mission what stood me in good stead is the great reputation UWA has in regards to sport and how our athletes conduct themselves.
“We have a built a culture of respect, performance and commitment and it’s great that this is being acknowledged externally,” he says.