Alumni Update Issue 1

Gavin Hirschhausen - passion for sport becomes a ticket to the world

Physical Education Teacher and Deputy Principal
Bachelor of Education (Secondary Physical Education)

Gavin Windsurfing

Gavin Hirschhausen’s passion for sport has taken him all over the world. His adventures have eventually led him back to Australia, as a Deputy Principal and Mayor Candidate in Greater Geraldton, where his focus is now on the importance of health and activity in schools.

While working as a teacher, Gavin realised how important physical education and living an active lifestyle are to children, and that Australian schools need to place more focus on students’ physical and mental health.

“Mental health issues are on the rise, and the focus is on treatment, not the root issues – not a lot of work is being done to understand the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle; people need time for recreation and play,” Gavin says.

After graduating from UniSA with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary Physical Education) in 1995, Gavin Hirschhausen flew straight over to America to pursue a dream of working in sport, unaware of exactly how far a summer job at camp would take him.

“I had a couple of good PE teachers who believed in me, and I wanted to continue in a career with my love of sport.

“I travelled extensively after each summer and kept coming back to Camp Deerhorn in Wisconsin because of the positivity of the place and the huge impact they had on shaping young boys into men of respect, honour and compassion.”

In 1998, Gavin trekked north to Canada, where he struggled with money until a local ski school said they would offer him a job if he passed his Level 1 ski instructor course.

“I volunteered to take extra ski lessons and was awarded Ski Instructor of the Year at the end of the season – that little journey taught me humility and to be truly thankful for every opportunity. By that time I was well and truly addicted to the mountains,” says Gavin, who began working as an avalanche controller at Castle Mountain Resort in Alberta.

“This job involved a steep learning curve utilising all my outdoor specialist skills from UniSA. I loved every second of it; there’s nothing like having a stick of explosives between your legs on the edge of a steeply packed snow face to let you know you’re alive.”

After six adrenaline filled years in North America, Gavin returned home to Australia to decide where his career would take him next. His continued passion for sport brought him to Geraldton, Western Australia, where he worked as Sports Coordinator and PE teacher at two schools.

“It wasn’t until I got a job at Strathalbyn Christian College in Geraldton, that I found what I was looking for. As I built the Outdoor Education program there it became really clear to me how inactive and disconnected from creation a lot of kids were becoming. I became quite passionate about it and found myself leading more and more by example.”

Throughout his life and career journey, Gavin has discovered a lot about the pursuit of dreams and goals, and the importance of grasping onto opportunity. He recently ran for Mayor of the City of Greater Geraldton, and while unsuccessful, believes it was a valued experience that has expanded his horizons.

“I returned from twelve weeks study leave last year where I visited Germany and the US to look at innovations in education and leadership as part of my postgraduate studies, and had my eyes opened to the opportunities that exist back home.

“You should live your dreams, and dream big! Be humble and open to the opportunities that present themselves as there are many paths you may need to go down to discover which is right. It will take you longer than expected to achieve your goals, but trust yourself to have a go.”

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