Sunshine Bay Primary School had a special guest on Monday, August 6, as rugby superstar Cassie Staples visited the students with her Commonwealth Games silver medal in tow.
Staples, a former student at the school, spoke about her experiences with the Australian women’s rugby sevens team, then took questions from the students during a special assembly.
She then lead a short rugby clinic for the senior students which was unfortunately cut short due to rain.
Staples said she loved coming back to Batemans Bay to show that it’s possible for country kids to be successful.
“I want to highlight that these kids can do anything, and giving back to my community is a big thing for me as well,” she said. “I love being a part of anything back home, because we don’t access to the same athletes, coaches, or facilities as they do in Sydney.
“It’s really important for me to come back as much as possible.
“I’d love to get around to some of the other schools in the area as well. It's not just important to come back to my own schools, but to also spread the encouragement and passion across the entire South Coast where we don't get it as much.”
Staples’ athletic prowess first became apparent through netball, which she started playing while attending Sunshine Bay Primary School.
“I was playing basketball one day on the courts, and one of my friends goes: ‘You should play on my netball team’,” she said. “That’s kind of how I started in netball.
“We were all super competitive, and we wanted to win. I continued playing through high school as well, and got picked for a few different state teams.”
Staples nurtured that talent throughout high school, and said her parents Wayne and Lily were supportive without being pushy.
“My dad is super supportive, and has a really competitive nature,” Staples said. “He’s my best supporter on the sidelines, and always wanted me to train really hard, but I think the training came from the love of the sport, not because I was told to.”
Staples also visited Carroll College on Monday, and said the amount of love for rugby union was encouraging for the future.
“Growing up, rugby and rugby league were popular in this area, but it was for the guys,” Staples said. “I just went to my old high school, and to see the passion and love for the game, not just for the boys, but the girls as well, is really inspiring.
“It lets me know that we’re doing our jobs well. To have those pathways for girls who do want to play rugby is really important to me.”
And although Staples travels all over the world playing rugby, she hopes to be a positive influence on kids back home.
“I’d like to be a role model for young kids across the South Coast,” she said. “That’s my end-goal, so as long as I’m doing that, I’m satisfied.”