Students from the first graduating cohort of the Melbourne Cricket Education Academy (MCEA), which is powered by RMIT, are turning their childhood dreams into reality as they step up to bat in new jobs at Cricket Victoria.
When Baxter Stephensen was seven years old, he got the opportunity to meet his favourite sports star – Jack Watts, an AFL player for the Melbourne Football Club. And it was all thanks to one attentive employee.
“There was a signing session and being a huge Melbourne Demons fan, I was super excited to meet Jack and get his autograph. Although they started to close off the line to his table as we were getting near.
A Demons worker saw how disappointed I was and made sure I got to meet Jack. It was the best day of my life,” said Baxter.
This experience meant the world to Baxter, and it is one he hopes to provide for many young kids in his role as Fan Engagement Officer for the Melbourne Renegades, which he secured soon after graduating from the MCEA.
The MCEA is a partnership between Cricket Victoria and RMIT University, which is delivered at the CitiPower Centre at Junction Oval.
Studying a dual Diploma of Business and Diploma of Leadership and Management, students gain access to industry experts and real-world learning opportunities within an elite sporting environment.
“Being able to walk into the CitiPower Centre every day and casually interact with professional cricket players and staff is something that still amazes me,” said Seamus Mcilroy, another recent MCEA graduate who has started working for the Melbourne Stars.
Like Baxter, Seamus has been a sports fanatic since an early age.
“I always grew up dreaming of playing sport professionally, but I lacked the necessary skills.
I figured that working for the professional teams would be just as good of an outcome, which is why I applied for the MCEA.”
An unmatched learning experience
The unique combination of classroom teaching, internships and volunteering opportunities offered by the Academy is something that both Baxter and Seamus credit with helping them land jobs.
“MCEA was one of the best education decisions I’ve made,” said Baxter.
“It offers experiences in the cricket and spectator sport industry like no other courses,” he continued.
It was also the close community of educators and peers that made their journeys so memorable.
“It was far more tight-knit than the typical university experience, and the bonds I formed over the year with my lecturers and classmates made every class enjoyable,” said Seamus.
Baxter specifically acknowledges Esteban Franco, teacher and Course Coordinator in the College of Vocational Education.
“I’m very thankful to Esteban, who has been my favourite teacher in my entire schooling journey.
“He takes the time to get to know the learning styles of every student and get to know you as a person too, which makes students want to be there,” Baxter said.
Inspiring future generations of cricket superstars
As they get settled into their new roles, Baxter and Seamus are excited for the future.
As Fan Engagement Officers, they will be deeply involved in the community, helping to run clinics at primary schools and cricket clubs.
“I am most looking forward to fostering a love of cricket in young people. I owe so much to my cricketing journey, and I am privileged to have an opportunity to help spark a love of the game in others,” said Seamus.
“I’m really excited to be able to promote sport for children and hopefully see them grow up to play cricket all their lives,” echoed Baxter.