Thomas Kindley, BPhEd: In recognition of high-level sports management and coaching.
Thomas is the Performance Director of the first ever professional men's rugby team in Boston, USA. The team is called the New England Free Jacks and represents the six states of New England, competing in the nationwide Major League Rugby competition.
He has also overseen the development of an academy programme across New England encouraging a new generation of Americans to play rugby and learn about the sport. Thomas was a staff member for the USA Eagles rugby team at the last Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan, attending as an assistant analyst and assistant strength and conditioning coach. He will continue to work with the squad intermittently as they attempt to qualify for the 2023 RWC in France.
What was your reaction to receiving the award, and what does it mean to you?
I was honoured to receive the reward. It means a lot as I have dedicated myself to pursuing a career in high performance sport. It's cool to be able to look back at how applying learnings from university and experience regarding the key fundamentals within any industry – of application, commitment, common sense and courtesy – has resulted in opportunity. I'm grateful to my Mum and Dad and brothers for their support while I jet across the world, and for their guidance as to how to conduct oneself professionally and otherwise.
What have you done since graduation and what are you doing now?
I undertook internships at Dartmouth College and Fordham University in their strength and conditioning departments. I've had dual strength and conditioning/analysis roles with USA Rugby, including the 2019 Rugby World Cup. I've held Traineeship, Performance Manager and now Performance Director Roles with the New England Free Jacks (Major League Rugby).
What inspires and motivates you to work in the areas you are involved with?
High performance sport is obviously an emotional roller coaster and I enjoy the challenges within it and the edgy nature. It keeps you on your toes and aspiring to improve processes and your knowledge base on a regular basis. Working with people and fostering relationships is an awesome part of it too, including the academy, community and foundation settings in New England where I get to meet some neat people.
What were the highlights of your time at Otago, and has it helped you in your career path?
I really enjoyed PE school and the uniqueness of it including dance and gym; practical courses; in-depth sports science; and awesome facilities. I was lucky to get real world experience at Unipol for three years and enjoyed the challenge of Health Science also. I enjoyed living with my best mates for four years on Duke Street.