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Top coaches reach the Summit

16 April 2024

Five High Performance coaches have been fast-tracked into the inaugural AIS Women’s Summit Program.

AIS Women's Summit Program 2024
To kick off the inaugural AIS Women’s Summit Program, a group of high-performance coaches met in Melbourne for a two-day workshop.

The 12-month AIS High Performance Coaching program has the dual focus of providing a support network and a development opportunity for targeted female coaches in lead coaching roles.

It is a spin-off of the existing Summit Program (established in 2022) and a direct attempt to stem the flow of women dropping out of the coaching pipeline.

Implementing changes to prevent women from leaving the coaching ranks was a key component outlined in the Women in High Performance Coaching Action Plan which was published in November 2023.

Laryssa Biesenthal (Beach Sprint), Renae Birgan (Shooting), Amee Donohoe (Surfing), Alice Ingley (Archery) and Mel Tantrum (Open Water Swimming) met in Melbourne for a two-day workshop to commence the program; with five more female coaches to be added following the Paris 2024 Games.

Women’s Summit workshop
The AIS High Performance Coaching program aims to provide a support network and development opportunities for females in lead coaching roles.

Swimming Australia’s Open Water Swimming Head Coach Mel Tantrum is the Dolphins’ first female senior national head coach and looks forward to the day female head coaches “just become the norm.”

“If the coaches here can then be role models in their sports and make a path for other female athletes to follow, that’s success,” Tantrum said at the Melbourne event.

“If a female coach has an ambition to be on the Australian team or coaching on the world stage and that becomes an easy process for them in the future, then that’s a win.”

For Laryssa Biesenthal, a former rowing coach who has been appointed Beach Sprint Lead Coach, a new event on the LA 2028 Olympic Program, having this network and sense of community is important.

“I equate it to the Olympic Village,” Biesenthal said.

“You’re all Team Australia, but the one time you meet all the other sports is at the Olympic Games. What if we can do that now?

“If we can draw on that level of expertise four, eight, 12 years out instead of working in silos, is one sport going through the same struggles, the same hardships, the same learnings, the same lessons? That’s what I feel is the power of these five women.”

Meeting bi-monthly online, the design, structure and delivery of the AIS Women’s Summit Program is based on the First Nations Methodology utilised by the AIS High Performance Coach Development Team.

Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker AM is the Indigenous female senior leader working with Olympic gold medal winning sailor and sailing coach, Belinda Stowell and Olympic rowing athlete, Claire Lambe to lead the program. Professor Kickett-Tucker is a research fellow at Curtin University in the fields of Australian Aboriginal identity and self-esteem. She is involved in several Aboriginal community development programs, primarily for younger people and will use Indigenous culture to inform learning throughout the program.

In late 2024 these five coaches will link with all Summit Program members in Perth to extend their networks.

This collaborative approach to working together towards shared outcomes is a key pillar Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy.

With many Women’s Sumit Program members bound for Paris 2024 and Brisbane 2032 on the horizon, the Summit Program complements the AIS National Generation 2032 Coach Program - an apprenticeship program for aspiring pathway and early career high performance coaches.

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