Year 12 student, Kobe Henderson, can be a hard person to catch—literally. The young triathlete keeps to a tight training schedule as he balances his commitments to running, swimming and cycling with the challenges of Year 12.

Kobe’s family moved to Bendigo from Timboon—a fabulous little village surrounded by lush green farmland in Victoria’s south-west—when he was about to start Year 11.

“It was hard to leave Timboon,” Kobe admits. “I had great mates and I still miss the beach and the great sporting community that I was part of. Yet I’m very happy here and have had heaps of great opportunities in Bendigo.”

Each year a number of new students arrive at BSSC without a single familiar face in the crowd. Kobe was one of these last year. However, because students ‘travelling solo’ are linked together, Kobe was with a number of others new to Bendigo.

“I think I spent the first week trying to work out where I was meant to be,” Kobe laughs, “but I was sold on BSSC from the first assembly at Step-Up.

“I still love it—the choice of subjects, the teachers, the facilities, the extra events such as yoga, free lunches and cooking—it’s amazing.”

Luckily for Kobe, BSSC is also perfectly set up to support him in his triathlon aspirations due to a comprehensive and supportive Specialist Sports Program.

These days Kobe has found his feet not just at school, but also in the Bendigo community. The pool where he trains—Bendigo East—is only 500m from his home. Most days he trains alongside fellow BSSC student and International swimmer, Cameron Jordan.

“We used to travel down the highway to Warrnambool to get to a pool,” Kobe says. “Being able to walk down the street is a nice change.

“The other day I joined a big group of cyclists who regularly do a bunch ride out over Mount Alexander. It was fantastic.”

The third aspect of triathlon is, of course, running.

With an average training run of 7km, Kobe is following plans laid out by his coach—former world champion, Joanne King.

Kobe’s next race is this weekend’s Bridgewater Lakes Open Tri near Portland and then there is the prestigious School Sport Australia Championships to be held on the Sunshine Coast late in March this year.

With access to the Specialist Sports Program at BSSC, Kobe benefits from extra-curricular events such as ex-athletes who come to speak to students, and a capacity to have adjustments made to his academic program when there are essential sporting events.

He has also had great support from BSSC Director of Sport, Drew Cathcart.

“Drew’s so organised and he takes great pics at all the college sporting events,” Kobe says. “He’s even happy for me to leave my bike in the Sports Office when I ride to school.”

Kobe also appreciates that the college takes him to every event he competes in when representing BSSC. This was just not feasible for the much smaller college he attended before.

All this support, both personal and embedded in the curriculum, has given Kobe the freedom to pursue both his sporting and academic aspirations.

As if the demands of his sport and his VCE studies are not enough, Kobe also has a part-time job as a lifeguard. When the pool is quiet he takes the opportunity to give some swimming tips to those who are interested.

Despite his focus on sport, Kobe has some firm academic goals. He wisely recognises that all athletes need to have a dream other than gold-medal glory.

His long-term plan is to study Biomedical Science at La Trobe University Bendigo.

“I think I’d love to do sports medicine, but only five rural students are accepted to go on into medicine,” he says. “I also love visual arts, but it doesn’t fit my present plans and engineering coding fascinates me, but I’m not taking subjects to prepare for that.”

Fortunately Biomedicine offers multiple streams of possibilities.

In the meantime, Kobe is enjoying his VCE subjects.

English Language with Kathryn McDiven is a favourite.

“It’s so different to any other English—kind of like the science of English,” he says. “I feel like you can’t make things up. No waffling.

“Craig Woodward’s Chemistry class is really good too. I would have loved to have done Physics as well, but had to make a hard decision that included dropping Specialist Maths. But Maths Methods is great.”

“Duane Anderson has been a great mentor for me. He treats me like an equal, and even though he’s not one of my teachers this year he often asks me how I’m going—as does Roy.”

Asked for a hot study tip, Kobe says organisation is key.

After “slacking off” sometimes during Year 11, Kobe realised how critical it is to be organised. Now he uses a diary to keep on track.

He also took on Issac Alderton’s advice (Issac was BSSC Dux for 2019) to be task—not time—orientated when it comes to homework.

“I do my homework after I finish training and often go up to the LTUB library,” he says.

Asked about things he thinks could be better at BSSC, Kobe would love to see more physical exercise in general amongst the students, pointing out that our brains needs us to be active.

At his previous college Kobe really enjoyed playing 8-ball at recess and lunchtimes—a game that is not only fun and challenging but also very physical.

“I can’t wait till they get the new outdoor basketball courts set up.”

Kobe also has a tip for those whose sport commitments run alongside their academic aspirations.

“If you are doing an individual sport, keep to your routine,” he says. “It will keep you motivated. If you miss a session, you missed the session: don’t try to catch up because that’s how injuries happen.”

Despite Kobe’s significant sporting and study commitments, he is not ignorant about wider global issues.

For someone who has spent lots of time in the sea and speaks with great affection of places such as the beautiful and sheltered bay of Port Campbell, the amount of plastic in the ocean greatly concerns him. He would love to see it collected up and recycled.

“Last year in Chemistry I discovered there is a plastic that breaks down in sunlight,” Kobe says.

He also mentions the Corona Virus and its possible impact on the Olympics, and points out how events such as the Hong Kong riots prevented one of his mates, Maxi Shanahan, also a BSSC student, from competing in soccer at the World Deaf Games that were to be held there.

“But Climate Change is the obvious big one,” Kobe says. “I feel that people are not making the biggest effort to do something about it—although down around the SW of Victoria there are now heaps of wind farms, which is good.

“Climate change has given my generation challenges that we will have to take on with a real urgency in the next decade or so.”