Thursday, 22 March 2012

3701HUM Sports Journalism: Feature Profile Sources

Elizabeth Pluimers - Ph: 0419665727

Henry Pluimers: 30008855

Northcliffe Surf Club: 55398091

Interview Notes:

Liz Pluimers:

1. Earlier in February you dominated the final round of the competition at Noosa. Was there some satisfaction in beating your fellow Northcliffe competitor Kristyl Smith?

"Kristyl and I are actually quite good friends, we often do our training together. Putting your foot on the line though, it's always about winning".

2. Following a heavy race weekend, what does your recovery usually consist of?

"I work quite a lot with bodyscience, and air compression. But recovery is definitely a big part of the sport"

3. You say you're currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at USQ, is it tough balancing your career and school life together as one?

"It's actually really tough trying to train and compete full time. Study usually gets booted out the back door, I actually have a test to do tonight, but I've had to put it off due to competition".

4. You came 11th at Portsea earlier in the year after a ski pile up, did you ever feel out of contention prior to Noosa?

"Yeah definitely. I was shattered after Portsea, and I felt out of contention. There was four races to go, so I just gave it my best and it all worked out. I was definitely shattered though".

5. How important was your coach Dan Norton Smith when you first made the transition from Southport to Northcliffe?

"He was the main reason I switched over. He got me to chat with Pat O'Keefe, but he's definitely been a bit influence in my career".

Henry Pluimers:

1. How did Elizabeth become interested in the sport of surf lifesaving?

When they moved to the Gold Coast after living in Warwick her parents thought it was important that all the kids learned to swim in the surf and once they'd done that they could give it up.  Liz loved the surf and wanted to keep going with it.

2. How have you dealt with Liz's rise to fame?

"It is all for her" was his comment.  Her parents are so proud of her.  When she competed at Noosa recently family came from New South Wales to watch her compete and one relative drove from Dysart - a 7 hour drive - to see her. 

3. What were the financial implications/setbacks of surf lifesaving?

It has a significant impact until you get sponsorship.  When you go to carnivals you have to pay for accommodation.  When she first started it was $1250 for a paddleboard and $2000 for a ski, then you have repairs to everything to pay for.  Every year you need new equipment.  Getting sponsorship is very important.

3701HUM Assessment Piece 2 – Feature Profile: Ryan Cook

Finding the balance between university life, social time and a sporting hobby is normally a tough ask for anyone living in today’s rat race. If you thought a 9-5 slog was bad, try balancing study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a part time job as an accountant, and a career as a three time world champion all together on a Monday morning.

Elizabeth Pluimers does all of that. From the surf, to an air compression chamber used to speed up recovery, followed by office air conditioning at Baker Affleck Moffrey Accounting firm, Pluimers probably accomplishes more in an average morning before you’ve even turned on the toaster.

”It’s really tough trying to train and compete at the same time” says Pluimers, Queensland’s hometown Ironwoman. “Study normally gets booted out the back door”.

True to Australian spirit, Pluimers makes good use of the old sporting cliché “great champions always find a way to win”. Earlier in February Pluimers dominated the final race of the Kelloggs Nutri-Grain series to capture her second competition title, a trophy that sits alongside her three world championships.

Pluimers grabbed the trophy on the shores of Noosa, although the outcome was never guaranteed  heading into the final race weekend.

After copping a smashing at Victoria’s Portsea beach in round four – a race that involved a ski pile up and an abnormally low tide – Pluimers’ confidence was placed up for question after coming so close to the crown in 2011, but once again she silenced naysayers by letting her Northcliffe spirit do the talking.

“I was shattered after Portsea, and felt out of contention heading in” says Pluimers, nearly a month on. “There were four races to go, so I just gave it my best and it all worked out”.

That “best” wasn’t just any minor effort, though. Overcoming an 11th place ranking at Portsea was challenging enough, not to mention going head on against fellow Northcliffe surf club teammate Kristyl Smith, in a matter of Gold Coast bragging rights.

“Kristyl and I are quite good friends, we’ve trained together before, but when you put your foot on the line it’s always about winning” says Pluimers laughing.

That winning competitive gene seems to have been instilled in Pluimers’ blood from birth, even though the apple falls far from the tree in this case. Her father Henry Pluimers is perhaps the total opposite of his daughter athletically, although Liz’s natural love for the water can be accredited to her dad every step of the way.

“When we moved to the Gold Coast from Warwick, we thought it was important that all of our kids learned how to swim in the surf, and once they’d done that they could give it up” says Henry, never expecting Liz to become one of Australia’s best board paddlers. “Liz loved the surf and wanted to keep on going with it”.

While Pluimers’ dad may share the same excitement for the sport that his daughter has loved since moving to Northcliffe surf club at the age of 17, he may not share the same joy for the toll that surf lifesaving has taken on his wallet in the past years.

The average cost of a surf ski is $2000, $1250 for a brand new paddleboard, followed by accommodation, fuel and board repairs after each individual race. That adds up to a lot more than just a pair of soccer boots and a mouth guard at the start of the year.

“Getting sponsorship is very important” says Mr. Pluimers, “When you go to carnivals you have to pay for accommodation, and every year you need new equipment”.

Luckily for Pluimers, at least at the professional level, sponsorship hasn’t been hard to come by. Already at the early age of 24, Pluimers is sponsored by Dolphin Surf Craft, Performance Paddles and TYR – all of which provide her with equipment.

Pluimers is also fortunate to work closely with BodyScience, a company which helps her after a big race weekend, when recovery is priority number one.

“I work quite a lot with BodyScience, and air compression chambers. But recovery is definitely a big part of the sport” says Pluimers.

For most athletes involved in professional lifesaving, the physical toll has been beaten into them from years of early training and competition at a young age. Growing up on the beach is a must, and a respect for the ocean is the first lesson taught.

“Most kids start out as a junior nipper, learn how to handle big surf, and then go from there” said Northcliffe Surf Club representatives. “It’s either a lifestyle they choose to adapt to early, or grow out of come their teenage years”.

After securing her second Ironwoman title in Australia, Pluimers’ work doesn’t stop for an offseason straight away. Earlier in March she competed in Queensland’s State Championships at Kurrawa, where she earned Northcliffe six gold medals and came first in the single ski, board relay, taplin and mixed double ski events.

Afterwards, Pluimers wrote on her blog the following: “After competing as an individual all season in the Ironwoman Series, racing in teams is certainly something I love doing and look forward to at the end of a long season. We have some amazing girls at BMD Northcliffe and to make an ‘A Team’ is very tough”.
The rest of the family now relaxes, and prepares for Liz’s title defence next season.

“It is all for her” says Mr. Pluimers. “We’re all proud of her. When she competed at Noosa recently family came from New South Wales to watch her compete, and one relative drove from Dysart, about a seven hour drive to see her”.

While most of Queensland’s beaches coughed up a rather flat summer of waves for surfers, Pluimers conquered the season’s best and worst to make up for a disappointing 2011 campaign.

Now it’s back to balancing work, school and a career like the rest of us.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Should, or Would the Packers Consider David Garrard?

While the NFL free agency flurry continues to deliver haymakers of excitement and surprise, some teams just don’t seem to be interested in this year’s potential list of signees. That list, the one that features everyone from Peyton Manning down to Brandon Lloyd, seems to grow narrower by the day, not that the Green Bay Packers seem to care in the slightest.

If you thought Ted Thompson was keeping his usual pre-draft guessing game open, you’d be right. Chances are the Packers keep their hands warm until April 26, recruit a center to replace the newly departed Scott Wells, and pretend like the need for a backup quarterback was never a concern.

But as we move towards the butt-end of the free agency signing period next week, maybe the Packers could pinch an overnight deal – all the while Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning continue to stand each other off in the fight between Tennessee, San Francisco, Denver and Miami.

If that deal was to happen, and the Packers were to reach out to somebody, it could very well be David Garrard. Because if nothing else, he provides some insurance if Aaron Rodgers is to experience that inevitable “injury year” every great quarterback must go through.

Case and point:

  • ·         Fresh off back surgery, Garrard’s athleticism is an open ended query for every onlooker interested. That being beside the point for now, Garrard always had a skillset that was often unmatched in Jacksonville pre-Blaine Gabbert era -- the only problem was, it came in hot and cold spurts.
  • ·         Arm issues and athleticism aside however, there’s a motivation side to this whole thing. Even before Gabbert came along, Garrard was responsible for turning a 5-11 Jaguars team in 2008, into an 8-8 playoff contender in 2010. His dedication in training camps have been well noted, along with his leadership and communication between wide receivers.
  • ·         Believe it or not, Garrard also appears to be comfortable accepting his role as a backup now. While the back surgery hasn’t slowed him down, competing for a starting role in an already overcrowded team isn’t an option. Slipping into a backup role with a team like the Packers and seeing the rest of his career out, appears to be the better option.
  • ·         The other options the Packers have to consider aren’t flattering. Unless Green Bay wish to go for broke and take their chances with Graham Harrell (who was cut from the 53 man roster last year), that leaves only Vince Young and Chad Henne among some other no-names.

Garrard threw for 2734 yards during his final year in Jacksonville, and had 23 touchdowns to go with it. Garrard’s player agent told reporters that he expects Garrard to become a “hot quarterback” once Peyton Manning settles into a new home anytime soon, and when that happens, most believe that Flynn will follow suit.

But can the Packers really wait on Manning like that?

Obviously not, even if San Francisco or Denver are willing to.

Garrard, among others are available to ensure the protection of the Packers quarterback spot. If only Ted Thompson makes the first move.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cubs Defeat Brewers 6-1 in Spring Training Game

Following a 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, the Chicago Cubs placed another convincing victory on the board earlier today, defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 in Phoenix, Arizona.

While the Cubs young prospects continued to shine on the scoreboard, eighth year pitcher Ryan Dempster threw three solid innings, and also caught former Cub Aramis Ramirez by surprise at the plate with a wild pitch.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro also hit his first home run of the spring preseason, followed by a Darwin Barney RBI and an impressive showing from Blake DeWitt who started in left field. The Cubs now prepare for the Los Angeles Dodgers tomorrow, while Matt Garza takes the mound in his second start of the spring. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

3701HUM Sports Journalism Event Review Two – Ryan Cook: Queensland Reds vs. Western Force

(Rain falls as the Reds prepare for a lineout)

The defending champions mightn’t have had the weather on their side, but in amongst a Radike Samo sprint and Mike Harris’ pinpoint foot, the Queensland Reds have plenty to boast about following last night’s 35-20 win over the Western Force.

In their first home game of the 2012 Super Rugby season, 33,563 fans faced the drizzle to witness the Reds take on their Western rivals, minus injured superstar Quade Cooper. In the end Samo’s 60m interception turned foot-dash was the difference on the board -- but even with two straight losses next to their name, the Force still gave Ewen McKenzie’s side plenty to think about in postgame discussions.

Reds flyhalf Mike Harris was a perfect nine from nine on the night, and has quickly earned the respect of almost every Super Rugby fan watching. Still, the Reds were quick to downplay last night’s triumph, instead focusing on the defensive errors that allowed the Force to cut a 20-point lead down to six in the second half.

Among the hot topics, the Reds tackling remains an early issue for McKenzie to address at training. Force captain David Pocock chopped through the Reds sloppy arm tackles on the way to perhaps his easiest try of the season, only to be followed by James Stannard moments later to steal some brownie points for the Westerners.

There was also a bunch of Reds penalties that Queensland could have done without. In total, 27 points were decided thanks to the referee, while Samo and Ben Tapuai scored the Reds only tries of the evening.

(The Reds battle for the ball in their own half)
In hindsight though, all signs point towards another promising season if you’re counting your cards early. Countless times the Reds found themselves with acres of space last night, and if it wasn’t for slippery conditions, Queensland easily could have had two extra tries on the sheet if passes linked up.

On the other end, the Force weren’t without their own errors either. Young reserve Angus Cottrell gave up two big penalties in the final minutes of play, ending any chance of a Force comeback down 15-points. The rest of the team also threw away first half opportunities which could have made the difference -- leaving the Reds Western rivals at the bottom of the ladder after Week 2.

Queensland prepares for a second home game at Suncorp Stadium next week when they face the Melbourne Rebels, a team that the Reds outscored 86-21 in total last year.

 The Rebels fly north after recuperating from a 16-point home flop against the Waratah’s this past weekend, and hope to put together a much more solid display throughout the entire 80-minutes.

After succumbing to New South Wales’ pressure on Saturday, the Rebels also appear to be hurting without Kurtley Beale, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. If the Rebels took anything away from their game against the Waratah’s though, it’s that Melbourne should be aware of the Reds front line – especially after compiling two big tries in successive weeks.
**Flyhalf Mike Harris slots his second kick of the night. 

Game Notes: 
Date: 3 March, 2011
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Teams: Queensland Reds vs. Western Force
Attendance: 33,563

Sunday, 26 February 2012

3701HUM Sports Journalism Event Review – Ryan Cook: Brisbane Lions vs. Melbourne Demons

From a scoreless first half to a slow and sloppy second term, the Melbourne Demons somehow stole their first win of the 2012 NAB Cup season last night, defeating the Brisbane Lions 0.2.1 (13) to 0.1.4 (10) in soggy conditions at Metricon Stadium.
(The Brisbane Lions battle for the ball in wet conditions
at Metricon Stadium)

In the most low scoring affair of the AFL’s young preseason competition, the Lions led by seven come half time thanks to a Todd Banfield goal minutes before the siren. Melbourne managed to remain scoreless during the first half, but two late goals from the likes of Colin Sylvia and James Sellar sealed a last minute victory for coach Mark Neeld’s side.

Despite the lack of flare on the scoreboard, the Lions showed plenty of heart when it counted. Captain Jonathan Brown appeared confident in front of goal during his return from last year’s horrific injury, and former Lion Mitch Clark was held in check by third year player Matt Maguire throughout the course of the game.

What perhaps let the Lions down though, was a combination of both the slippery conditions and a lack of capitalizing on chances. By half time, the Lions had chalked up an impressive 98 disposals to the Demons 42, while Ash McGrath had 11 next to his name after working hard in the back field all night.

The added misfortune of James Polkinghorne’s miss just seconds before the final siren didn’t help the Lions confidence either. In front of a small crowd of 5,150, Polkinghorne missed a soda in front of the sticks which would have gifted Brisbane a victory – only to see it skid off the mucky surface for a behind.

That, a blunder by the video ref, and some of the Demons young eye-catchers gave the Lions back field some grief during the second half.

Out of Brisbane’s entire squad last night though, the Lions young guns also stole some headlines of their own. Young draft pick Elliott Yeo led the game in possessions through the second half, and his pinpoint kicks during the on and off drizzle have him earning comparisons to former Lion Justin Sherman early.

The Lions now prepare for the Adelaide Crows on March 3, but also have some minor concerns to address on and off the field. Although Brown played sufficient minutes in both games against the Demons and Gold Coast Suns this weekend, head coach Michael Voss has decided to “ice” his skipper in preparation for the regular season, while the rest of his team fly down south.

But even without Brown, the Lions competitive nature should have fans optimistic ahead of this season. If there was anything to take away from last night’s defensive clash, it’s that Brisbane are much hungrier for possession of the ball, and more determined to find the open man in space. Even if some of the same scoreboard struggles are occurring.

Game Notes: 
Date: 25 February, 2012
Time: 6:10pm
Venue: Metricon Stadium
Teams: Melbourne Demons, Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns
Attendance: 5,150

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Celtics Players Arrive in Orlando Ahead of All Star Weekend

After the Boston Celtics Western Conference road trip turned out to be a dud this week, Celtics fans now focus on Orlando, ahead of All Star Weekend.

Originally, Paul Pierce was the only member of the team chosen to select the green and white down south, but after news broke on Sunday that point guard Rajon Rondo will also be flying down to join Pierce on Friday, Boston fans have two key players to keep their eye on.

On the back of two straight defeats to the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s unlikely that Celtics fans will feel too excited ahead of the All Star weekend’s festivities. However, with Rondo leading the East in steals, and Pierce also having a handful of hot games early in the season, fans get enjoy a bit of delight – even if the regular season isn’t going according to plan.