Saturday, 17 November 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Former MBAS student named in University of Auckland’s “40 Under 40” list

Black Fern Eloise Blackwell is the first professional rugby player to be named one of the University of Auckland’s 40 under 40 exceptional alumni.

Now in its second year, the annual “40 Under 40” list celebrates the high achievers and game changers who are making a significant contribution in their fields, all before their 40th birthday.

Twenty-seven-year-old Eloise graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Auckland in 2013 and teaches PE and health at Epsom Girls Grammar, where she is passionate about influencing the next generation of sportswomen to wear the silver fern.

“I constantly have students asking about my sporting career and what they can do to become a better athlete,” says Eloise. “I want to empower my students to achieve their goals and dreams and realise that with a bit a hard work and determination anything is possible.”

Sport has been a dominant factor in Eloise’s life from a young age. Growing up on Great Barrier Island, where you were “barefoot and outside all the time,” Eloise took part in every sport on offer, but rugby quickly became her favourite. She attended Mercury Bay Area School during her high school years and played rugby for the school’s Girls XV team, before joining Ponsonby Rugby Club as a university student.

“While studying at the University of Auckland we were always encouraged to strive for excellence,” says Eloise. “This is something that I try to apply to all that I do in my work as a teacher and as a rugby player.

“I love my job. The school and staff are extremely supportive of me when I need to take time off to play test matches or I need to be at a training camp.”

In 2018, Eloise, who plays lock, was one of 28 players who became the first ever group of New Zealand women to become contracted professional players. “It’s a real milestone in the history of women’s rugby but also a huge step in the right direction and I am excited about what the future holds for the sport,” says Eloise.

Eloise’s two greatest sporting achievements to date are making her debut at Twickenham Stadium in 2011 for the Black Ferns and winning the Rugby World Cup in 2017. “There is no greater sporting honour than representing your country on the world stage and it was quite overwhelming taking all that in when I received that first call up,” says Eloise.

Forty exceptional individuals are recognised in the University of Auckland’s annual 40 Under 40 list in six different categories - business leaders, influencers, performers, entrepreneurs, humanitarians and disruptors and innovators.

Pictured is Eloise Blackwell in a Black Ferns game.

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