Harris happy learning lessons at Griffith

Two sides of Harris Andrews. Comfortable and assured on and off the field

Studying a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University is just one small step in a large life plan mapped out by one of AFL’s most exciting young talents.

All Australian fullback and current Griffith Sports College student Harris Andrews is setting himself up for life post football and believes that becoming a teacher is a great way to shape a prospective career in coaching.

Having previously studied a commerce degree at another institution, Andrews decided it was time for a change and enrolled in a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University.

The decision followed a breakout year on the field in 2019 when the 23-year-old was named in the All Australian side at fullback.

“I had thought about what I wanted to do post footy, and coaching is a major interest of mine,” he said.

“Teaching is a really good way to get into that and a lot of the philosophies in coaching and teaching are quite similar.”

Harris fires out a handball at Lions training in 2019 (Photo – courtesy Brisbane Lions)

Welfare staff at the Brisbane Lions are actively encouraging the players to do things away from football and to set themselves up for life after the final siren.

“Our welfare managers produce a really strong support base and really encourage us to go out and get educated,” Harris said.

The Brisbane Lions welfare staff offered him guidance in making his decision to study education and Griffith’s program came highly recommended as one of the best.

“I looked at our coaching staff and the different skill sets and qualifications they had and they all came from teaching and education backgrounds.”

The Padua College alumnus took note of who in the coaching staff were school teachers with senior coach Chris Fagan, NEAFL coach Mitch Hahn and development coaches Paul Henriksen and Zane Littlejohn all qualified educators.

“Talking to those guys, they said it was really helpful in their transition from playing football and wanting to go into coaching, and more importantly helping with their ability to instruct and relate to younger generations,” he said.

Teammates, Jarryd Lyons and Sam Skinner, are along for the journey with the 202-centimetre Brisbane Lions defender. The trio is studying together and gaining constant support from Griffith Sports College.

“Where I previously studied, the support just wasn’t there but at Griffith and through (Sports College Manager) Naomi McCarthy, my footy-study balance is seamless.

“There has been a lot of flexibility around organising assessment and it’s been really helpful and something that we really appreciate.”

When he is not doing assessment or going online for lectures and tutorials, the Aspley junior is getting himself ready for the AFL season re-commencement after the coronavirus-induced suspension in late March.

“I’ve been training one-on-one with teammate Ryan Lester as per AFL guidelines but am looking forward to getting into bigger groups soon ahead of the possible resumption in June.

Lifting weights at home during COVID-19 isolation

“All we have been able to do are running sessions in the local park and some weights at home but because of online zoom meetings with coaches and teammates we still all feel closely connected,” he said.

The extended down time hasn’t hurt Harris’ study regime having had plenty of spare moments to hit the books and get acquainted with the course after beginning in trimester 3 2019.

“The club has put a lot of things in place to keep the guys active and university is an important part of that for me personally.”

Griffith Sports College has a growing number of Lions players on its books including Daniel Rich (GBS) and Stefan Martin (Law) while the Gold Coast Suns, the official research and education partner of the University, are also well represented with six men’s players part of the GSC.