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Life After a Professional Athlete’s Career

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Kurt Gidley celebrates his try. Copyright © Renee McKay/Action Photographics.

Newcastle’s homegrown Kurt Gidley is best known for his brilliant career with the Newcastle Knights ending in 2017, leading the star to transition from full time professional sport into a Business Development Manager’s role with Protech Group.

Kurt Gidley grew up a Novocastrian boy, kicking off his first shot at footy in the under 7’s at Wests Rosella’s Newcastle who now own the Newcastle Knights.

His first professional opportunity came to play for the Knights was in the under 17’s S G Ball squad before making his professional debut in 2001. The now footy legend played there for the rest of his NRL career until 2015, going on to play for the Warrington Wolves in the Super League in the UK.

Gidley then retired at the end of 2017, stepping away from professional sport and footy and entering a post footy career business development role. When asked if he knew what direction he wanted to go into when he retired, he said nah not really. “When I was still playing footy, I was always probably going to go down the path of a strength and conditioning coach – I was always pretty fit, I enjoyed motivating and encouraging my teammates and driving accountability,” said Kurt.

Being in a captaincy role with the Knights and Warrington for a number of years, Kurt found he not only enjoyed leadership roles but wanted to take it further professionally in business.

“I was always thinking of going into a strength and conditioning position back at the Knights, but I needed a change and a new challenge by the time I finished playing my footy career and went into a Business Development Management (BDM) role with the Newcastle Knights before an opportunity at Protech arrived,” said Kurt.

Protech provides workforce solutions to the civil infrastructure, construction, rail, engineering, mining resources and power generation maintenance around the country. The mining sector in the Hunter Valley is a vital part of Protech Newcastle’s business success.  

With no previous experience in those industries and certainly stepping into the unknown, Kurt reflected on the things that he learnt in footy when it comes to perseverance, work ethic, a great attitude and willingness to learn. These traits have without a doubt helped him with his transition from a business development role at the Knights to a BDM role at Protech.

When asked about the transition, the former star said, “It was pretty hard to be honest – the transition from a long-term professional athlete into normal workforce hours, I suppose we have always been used to training schedules and routines leading into games, really unstructured compared to a Monday to Friday 40-hour week.”

“I was so used to training and playing whenever the coaching staff told us to. 7 days a week, morning, afternoon or night, public holidays, whatever. There was no such thing a sick leave or the thought of not turning up. We were totally committed to each other, the team, the goal.”

“Transitioning from that type of routine that we are all used to in professional sport into Monday to Friday 9-5, it’s a real challenge with longer days and without that high intensity competitive sport provides – it’s just different to what I was programmed to do for the previous 17 years,” Kurt added.

The decision to move into that Monday to Friday role was made easier with his wife Brooke and 3 young daughters Arabella, Macy and Hallie in mind, now able to enjoy relaxing on weekends and spending time with his family (and of course watching the footy whenever he gets the chance).

Also an ambassador for the Newcastle Knights, Kurt still works at home games, but has enjoyed transitioning away from just being in that sporting environment and learning a bit more around business and how it works.

It can be extremally overwhelming to try and work out what you want to do post career when you’re so focused on a professional sport. Kurt had some great advice for those currently looking at opportunities beyond their sporting career.

“It’s really about making the most of those relationships you meet through business when you’re a player, through sponsorships and through the clubs and different rep teams – they certainly help you when you retire and want to move into a career post footy.”

“I’ve recognised now that the relationships that I’ve built through my footy career and in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley are certainly helping out now with my career at Protech that’s for sure.”

“And you know, it’s not about using your name from my footy career, for me it’s about earning respect and credibility in a new industry and leveraging from those relationships I built with local businesses and people and turning them into genuine business opportunities.”

A Newcastle Knights fanatic myself, Kurt Gidley will always be a sporting legend to me. Now, I also see him as an inspiration in not only challenging himself by transitioning from sport, but using that experience to his full potential to become a brilliant business manager today.

If you’d like to hear more about what Kurt and the Protech Group are doing visit their website at https://www.protech.com.au.

Sport

Cast Away

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Winter is finally loosening its icy grip and there’s no better place to enjoy a bit of sunshine than out on the water with a rod in your hand.

OFFSHORE

It’s been all about Yellow Fin lately with a consistently good bite off the coast. We are starting to see the fish thin out and move South although things are still changing locally day to day.

The Snapper have been a bit hot and cold up around the Bay lately, though I’ve no doubt they will turn it on soon enough. The reefs off Newcastle and Forster are proving a lot more consistent.

OFF THE ROCKS

Whether it’s from the ocean rocks or from a breakwall, Bream and Blackfish are proving to be consistent and in good numbers.

Drummer and Grouper are also fishing well especially after some of the wild weather of late. You will also find a few Tailor spinning metals around the wash.

Squid will still be available but may be harder to find after the rough seas.

BEACHES

I must say that thanks to the super mild Winter weather we have been seeing this Winter there’s plenty on offer along the beaches. A beach fishing mission would have to be the pick with target species being Bream and Salmon throughout the day and Tailor on dusk. Even a Jewie or two as the sun disappears. As we move out of Winter and into Spring we generally see a decent run of Jewies on the beaches.

IN THE DAMS

The fishing is generally tough during Winter but armed with a few plastics, suspended divers worked super slow along the edges or even bobbing a few football or the ice style jigs through schools of fish holding in the deeper water you should find something to hook on.

Keep floatin’ – Thrifty’s

From the Thrifty’s Cookbook – 15 minute Salmon with Miso Glaze

Miso Glaze

  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons white miso, organic Miso

In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, hot water, and miso and stir with a whisk.

Salmon

  • 4 x 150gm Salmon fillets
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, optional

Arrange fish on a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon Miso mixture evenly over fish fillets. Bake for 8-10 mins or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Base again with Miso glaze halfway through cooking (2 times total). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Best served with rice and greens.

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Sport

Big Goals for Local Boxer

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Cessnock’s Troy O’Meley entered the ring in 2008 and has never looked back, now striving to one day be the World Boxing Champion.

The 27-year-old took out the Australian Super Welterweight Championship earlier this year and he’s not stopping there. Not even COVID can stop this ambitious young boxer from smashing goal after goal as he trains harder than ever to defend his title which has been postponed until further notice.

Troy became the Australian Champion after his victory against Adrian Rodriguez in early March 2020 – the biggest title of his career to date. His early career saw Troy the first non-Thai to fight for the Thai National team and represent Thailand in the World Series Boxing, carrying their flag to Mumbai.

Turning Pro in 2017 the Hunter boxer currently stands at an impressive 11 wins to no losses. With huge support from his father and trainer Anthony O’Meley and brother Kane O’Meley who is also a boxer, Troy said his family is who inspires him and it’s not hard to see why.

Anthony currently hosts the 6pm to 8pm slot on 2CHR 96.5fm covering topics from mindset and motivation to discipline and training, with Troy sitting alongside him as guest speaker.

“Dad went on the radio show to promote the Title Bout and Dad loves a chat, so I sit by his side and support him on the show,” said Troy.

Sharing some of his experiences, advice and support for his community on the show Troy said, “I’m passionate about helping others as it’s genuinely good for your soul.”

Late last year Troy travelled to Narrabri together with members of the East Cessnock Bowling Club to donate a van full of toys, clothing, food and essentials to assist with drought relief in the region. Troy also generously ran a boxing and fitness clinic for kids in the area.

Most recently Troy completed the 25 push-ups for 25 days challenge to help raise awareness of PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicide. He expressed how important it is to look after each other during the current pandemic. “This challenge is really close to my heart,” said Troy.

“I know it can be hard sometimes, I’ve been through a lot myself, but by getting out and doing things for yourself you can always turn everything around.”

Thinking back to his Australian Championship title, Troy said, “I can tick that step off my list, although I still have a long journey ahead to achieve my goal of World Champion.”

“I look back on each and every step of my journey as being a part of the story that has helped me achieve my most current achievement.”

His advice to young athletes – to have self-belief through discipline and dedication. And Troy’s career and strong character embodies exactly that. One step further to his goal, we hope to see the O’Meley name take the World Title in the years to come.

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Driving

Do You Even Lift Bro?

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You’ve just bought yourself a new 4WD and you’re about to kit it out with some mods to get you out on the tracks and touring the countryside. If you’re new to the game, you might be struggling with ideas on where to start and the most practical mods that will be useful for 4WDing and touring. 

So, do you need a suspension lift? It’s a question that most newcomers debate over – “I’m only doing beach driving and a few easy tracks; do I really need a suspension lift?” Well, the simple answer is yes you do, but the long answer is much more complicated than that.

Most modern 4WDs have a whole heap of hi-tech traction aids that work wonderfully with the exception that they all lack two important factors – ground clearance and suspension down travel. These are the two things that will get you stuck!

When you start to add weight to your vehicle with other goodies like bar work, roof racks, fridges for camping and camping gear the extra weight moves vital components closer and closer to the ground, not to mention that the handling of the standard suspension will also be affected.

Most quality suspension suppliers will offer a range of different spring rates to suit the weight you have on the vehicle, so that it’s always handling its best and sitting at its optimum ride height.

The legal lift height in most states is 75mm (or 3 inches in the old scale) over-all, including suspension lift and lift obtained from fitting bigger tyres. The most common way of achieving this is by running 50mm of suspension lift and fitting tyres with a 50mm larger diameter than the standard tyre (which lifts the height of the vehicle 25mm bringing it to 75mm overall).

Now while this doesn’t sound like much, it really makes a world of difference in dramatically improving the approach, ramp-over and departure angles of the under-body components while tackling uneven terrain. It pays to check your state’s requirements as it does vary.

But I’m only doing beach driving.

The thing about beach driving, is that you’re dealing with an ever-changing environment. A hard-packed, easy-to-drive beach one day can be a soft, washed out mess the next day; so raising the chassis rails and body components up out of the soft sand with a suspension lift makes sense, to avoid these bits getting hung up.

There could be worst places to get stuck than on a nice beach somewhere (especially with a fully loaded esky) but the reality is, even though getting stuck is sometimes unavoidable, it’s much easier and safer to not be stuck than to need to do a recovery. A quick YouTube search will reveal plenty of horror stories of bogged 4WDs being claimed by the surf.

The same can be said for driving bush tracks – anything from mild to wild tracks can always change and giving your vehicle the best ground clearance and suspension down-travel will reduce the chance of damage and ensure that wheels stay on the ground and moving forward.

So, a suspension lift makes perfect sense for anyone wanting to do any form of off-road driving to avoid damage and ensure forward momentum, and we would definitely put it up there as one of our top 4WD mods. After all, who couldn’t use a few more inches?

Thanks to TJM HunterValley, our 4WD experts

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