Learning how to move correctly is extremely important for any young athlete – something Stacey Niao is focusing on with the students at St Paul’s Collegiate School.
Stacey is working towards a masters in exercise physiology and strength and conditioning at Hamilton’s Wintec.
As part of her studies, she is based at St Paul’s three to four times per week helping the students with strength and conditioning alongside Michiel Badenhorst, St Paul’s High Performance Sport Strength and Conditioning Coach.
The arrangement is part of the relationship between St Paul’s and Wintec’s Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance, which sees postgraduate students complete a practical component at the school, putting their theory into practice.
Stacey’s primary focus is female athlete development, so she works with the senior St Paul’s girls in the school’s weights room. She has also spent some time with the junior boys working on functional movement.
“My biggest goal is to teach them how to move. As we get older, our bodies lose mobility and flexibility, so if they can learn how to move correctly when they are younger this will help them in the future,” says Stacey.
She also works with them on sport enhancement performance – helping them to get stronger and faster for their sports, reducing the risk of injury.
Originally from Kawarau, Stacey is an athlete herself. She plays for the New Zealand volleyball team and brings with her a wealth of industry knowledge.
She completed her undergraduate studies in exercise science at Illinois State University in the USA, which she attended under a volleyball scholarship. During her time in the States, she also worked in strength and conditioning at a private facility, training elite athletes.
“At schools and universities in America, every sporting code has a strength and conditioning programme that complements it. When I returned to New Zealand to continue my studies this opportunity at St Paul’s came up and I was keen to get involved. I have not seen another high school in New Zealand promoting this kind of athlete development – it is a great opportunity for these kids,” says Stacey.
And the work she does is not just limited to the athletic students. “I want all students to learn about themselves and their own bodies. The better they get at that, the better they will be in not just sport, but everyday life. From good posture to walking around, the more they understand about their bodies, the more they can learn how to be healthy and fit for life.”
Movement aside, Stacey also stresses to her students the importance of maintaining good grades, adopting a good morning routine and to always have fun – “it’s not always about winning, it’s also important to enjoy the journey.”
Find out more about St Paul’s sporting programme
Find out more about Wintec’s Postgraduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science