For BSSC Year 11 student, Maxi Shanahan, studying Phys Ed is fundamental to his pathway towards a career in the professional sports arena.

His aim is to study Sports Management/Development—probably at La Trobe University—but his dream is to play professional soccer… and he’s on track.

In November this year, Maxi will participate in the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in Hong Kong as goalkeeper for the Australian team. This event is a precursor to the Deaf Olympics which will be held in 2021.

“I just love football,” Maxi says. “I feel like I’m fully focused when I’m playing and my aim for Hong Kong is to play my very best football—because you never know who could be watching.”

It is clear Maxi does not let hearing challenges get in the way of his sport or learning and his natural enthusiasm will be a real asset as he progresses through VCE and continues to develop as an elite sportsman.

Training three to four times per week, plus games on Saturday, keeps Maxi both very fit and very busy. Bendigo City is his local team, but he has also travelled to UK and Europe to attend training sessions with clubs playing professionally.

“I’ve also met one of the Socceroos and a few high-profile goal coaches and goalies.”

Over his time in the sport, Maxi has come to admire many players. But his hero is David de Gea who is goalkeeper for Premier League club Manchester United and also plays for the Spanish national team. Maxi is impressed by de Gea’s capacity to remain calm and never get angry.

“He also talks constantly to his team mates,” Maxi explains, “encouraging and inspiring them. So far my experience of people who are career footballers has been pretty positive. Wherever I’ve gone, everyone has been welcoming and open.”

Maxi started playing football when he was in Grade 2. These days, he’s committed to the role of goalie—and works with coaches who specifically train goalkeepers. He also invests in the players coming up through the ranks in his role as Assistant Coach of Bendigo City’s Under-13 team.

Before a big game, Maxi often uses music to help him get in the ‘zone’.

“I also tell myself: ‘you’re going to stop every ball in this match’.”

Next year Maxi will need to train in Melbourne and is hoping he can successfully manage his studies and sport.

Meanwhile, he is well supported at BSSC by his teachers and is particularly enjoying working with Kendal O’Sullivan and Mark Fox.

“They have different skill sets but they are both so supportive and willing to follow-up to make sure our learning is the best it can be.

“Coming to BSSC I was more excited than nervous because I was looking forward to getting into my last couple of years of schooling. BSE worked really well for me, but I was ready for the next challenge and the opportunities available to me here.”

One of the highlights of Maxi’s time at BSE was when he and 16 others participated in World Challenge. They travelled to Thailand and Laos where they undertook jungle treks and helped build an elephant enclosure at Laos Zoo.

“I will always be able to say, I did that!” Maxi says.

The quieter environment at BSSC, with smaller classes and classrooms, works really well for Maxi and he’s enjoying his subjects, likes his teachers, and has a good group of friends.

“I’ve really begun to understand the importance of asking questions,” he says. “Even if you make a comment that is a bit critical I have found my teachers will listen and do everything to explain or help us learn whatever we are doing at the time… you just have to be willing to engage.”

Coming to BSSC has given Maxi the insight that what you put in is what you get out—there are no ‘A’s or ‘B’s without the equivalent workload.

“I’ve decided that a positive attitude to study is actually a skill that can be learnt and improved on,” he says. “I know it can be hard if self-confidence is an issue, but my own confidence in asking questions has increased a lot this year just by getting into the habit of doing it. I’m starting to see the benefit of it.

“My advice to others is that the teachers are there and want to hear from you. Ask questions! Even if you are only a bit unsure, not asking could hold you back. Sometimes asking what seems like a simple question might make a big change in your outcomes.”

If he could change one thing about BSSC, Maxi would like to see more space for sport.

“There’s really only the gym,” he points out. “I really hope the old portables area will become a basketball court or other dedicated sports area.”

Despite his full-on schedule, Maxi also keeps aware of global issues and is particularly appalled by racism and gun violence in the US and wonders how parents send their kids to school knowing they might not come home.

Maxi also draws attention to another incredibly important issue—simple acts of kindness.

“You never see it on the news,” he says, “but those random acts of kindness—such as buying a cup of coffee for a homeless person—are so important even though they are mostly unseen and unheard.”

We also asked Maxi what he would say if he could go back and give his 12 year-old self some advice.

“First, don’t worry about the future,” he says. “Take every day as it comes. I think everything happens for a reason and if it’s not meant to be it’s because it’s not meant to be.

“Second, I said ‘no’ to things I should have said ‘yes’ to because I worried about what my peers would think.  So, don’t worry so much about what others think. The ones who want you to succeed will be beside you whatever happens. I think this is true for all life: school, sport and work.”