For Griffith University PhD student and sports scientist Georgia Brown, connection is the secret weapon for winning outcomes on the rugby field.
Despite considering herself “early career”, Miss Brown has enjoyed a sweep of sports science roles, most recently being invited back to work with the Jillaroos through October.
The opportunity follows her tenure in the Indigenous women’s rugby league elite and development space as well as representative PM XIII women’s team.
Having enjoyed sought-after positions with the Gold Coast Titans, Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Roar amongst others, Miss Brown’s experiences have taught her that working with the players is as much about listening as it is advising.
“I think your ability to not only write a program and apply it, but how you deliver it, how you coach and how you interact will be the greatest determinant of what you get out of your players,” she said.
“Without those interpersonal skills, you’ve really just got a bunch of numbers on a sheet of paper, and at the end of the day athletes are human.
“It takes communicating well and letting them know the reasons you’re pushing them when needed or on other days, listening and letting them step back.”
“Georgia has taken groups of athletes and expert coaches around Australia and has now been given the opportunity herself to train under one of these coaches,” she said.
“She was putting her hand up early on in her undergraduate degree, and that has not only allowed her to flourish but learn along the way through multiple opportunities.”
Miss Brown said taking on small-scale roles and participating in testing days help pave the way to bigger opportunities.
“I’ve gained such an appreciation for different sports settings and systems whilst meeting some incredible mentors through Griffith,” she said.
“You learn your skills through the less glamorous jobs, so when a bigger opportunity comes up, you can come in ready to make an impact versus just come in and figure it out.”
One of those significant career steps came when Miss Brown was offered the role of sports scientist for the NRLW Gold Coast Titans inaugural season.
“That was a big step for me, and there are now Griffith students doing their placement and practical’s at the Titans which is great because the more people that they can get into those environments and learn the processes, the more it helps to elevate the game,” she said.
“In my early experiences, it was one person doing multiple jobs, and now we’re seeing women’s teams with two or three assistant coaches, physios, a strength and conditioning coach, a speed coach, a power coach.
“It’s goes a long way having staff to put the time in without it being a rush job, which I think helps the players feel valued, more looked after, and that shows in performance.”
Miss Brown is now combining her passion for women’s rugby league and First Nations sporting development, having worked with the First Nations Gems at national championships and then the women’s Indigenous All Stars.
“It’s an incredible game to watch and be a part of, but it’s the week that we spend with the players out in community and connecting to culture that is the highlight of every year,” she said.
“We say most of our job is just getting to know the girl’s stories, and then we do a little bit of coaching on the side.
“I’m so grateful for that because I know in a lot of other teams’ spaces, it’s all focused on performance.
“By gaining the stronger connection, you get stronger performance outcomes.”
Miss Brown’s research as a PhD student involved ‘Identifying the Barriers to Effective Conversations About the Menstrual Cycle Between Elite Female Athletes and Performance Staff’, also reflecting the need for better communication around female specific health.
The youngest speaker on a panel of researchers and sports management experts at the 2023 Women in Sports Summit, Miss Brown said that despite only 3% of research being done in female athletes, she is positive about the attention it is gaining.