Special Olympics medalist to inspire next generation of swimmers

Like a few other stories I wrote at Quest, I found the idea for this story while searching local schools’ social media pages. They main office was more than happy to organise a time for a phone interview with the student, and provide a photo for us to use.


Robert Thornton

WAVELL State High student Tahlia Pitt came home with a slightly heavier suitcase from the Special Olympics Swimming Championships in Adelaide.

The Year 12 student achieved silver in the 200m Freestyle, a bronze in the 4 x 50m Freestyle relay, and fourth in both the 100m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke at the competition in April.

Pitt says she’s been training for a few years, and is glad the hard work has finally paid off.

“We had to compete at State Games first to qualify for (the) Adelaide (competition),” she said.

“Now I’m waiting to find out whether I’ve qualified for Worlds in Abu Dhabi.”

In addition, Pitt has been asked to work as a swimming coach to help inspire the next generation of swimmers at Geebung Special School.

“I’ve just started the coaching, which is on Friday,” she said.

“It’s great fun for me and even better for the kids.”

School girls to perform in front of capacity crowd

This story came from a press release that was sent to Quest, and I immediately contacted the Boondall Figure Ice Skating Club to get contacts for one of the girls and a parent for interviews. I was able to obtain contacts very quickly. There is no photos here, because the editor decided to find them herself, and at the time of publication here, I am unsure as to whether this story has been published in Quest or not.


Robert Thornton

FOUR young ice skaters from Boondall Figure Ice Skating Club will appear in front of a capacity crowd at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on June 30.

Caitlyn Ryan (8), Grace Seaton (11), Erica Russell (15) and Holly Stevenson (11) will join 14 other girls for the Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 year of Magic pre-show.

Natalie Stevenson, Holly’s mother, said the girls are all very excited about the opportunity.

“None have ever performed in a Disney pre-show – they’re all first timers – so this is their first big thing.” she said.

Ms Stevenson believes ice skating is a great activity for young children, and teaches them valuable skills.

“When you skate, you fall, you will fall – you can trip at any time – so one big thing you have to learn is to get up and keep going,” she said.

“It can be taxing as a parent with all the early starts, but when I see the look on my daughter’s face it’s all worth it.”

Grace Seaton said she is looking forward to performing in front of a big crowd.

“I just want to see what it’s like, and I love to watch Disney, so I’m really excited,” she said.

The 11-year-old has been skating for three years, and loves the feeling of gliding on the ice.

“My mum and her friends were going to try (ice skating), and I asked her if I could come and ended up falling in love with it,” she said.

“I just love all the competitions and seeing other skaters.”

Disney On Ice arrives in Brisbane on Friday June 29, the pre-show will happen at 5.30pm on the night of the June 30 show.

Tickets on sale now from Ticketek on 132 849 or by visiting http://www.ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce. For more information visit http://www.DisneyOnIce/com.au.

Scorchers keeper wins rookie of the year

This story came from a press release sent to Quest listing various awards won at the 2017 Hockey Queensland Annual Awards. On the list was a UQ student, Hannah Astbury, who had won rookie of the year. I called Hockey Queensland and asked for a contact for Hannah, and proceeded to organise a phone interview later that week. Hannah was able to provide photos.


Robert Thornton

UNIVERSITY of Queensland’s Hannah Astbury was named Female Rookie of the Year at the 2017 Hockey Queensland Annual Awards last month.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper had a stellar year with the Queensland Scorchers, and is now looking forward to the 2018 season with the side, which she has again been selected for.

Originally from Townsville, Astbury now plays for UQ Hockey Club, one of Brisbane oldest and strongest clubs.

The Morningside resident said the award was unexpected but appreciated.

“It’s always nice to be recognised, especially when you’re a goalie and you can’t sore the goals,” she said.

“It was definitely great to get it before the Super League tournament, and I look forward to building on the confidence.”

Astbury said she has been a goalkeeper from very early on.

“My dad played hockey, so he was always a big influence on me, especially with goalkeeping,” she said.

“Usually when you’re younger you take turns goalkeeping, but I used to like kicking the ball around and picked it up – I just fell into it.”

Her road to success has not been without injury and setback, however.

“I tore my quad late in season playing Under 21s in 2017, and I couldn’t play the two final games,” she said.

“But sometimes injuries help you to remind yourself that you need look after yourself and work harder.

“Now I’m looking forward to the next Under 21s season, and we have a good chance of winning that.

Brighton girl selected for state team

The idea for this story came to me when I was searching for sport stories by visiting local schools’ social media pages, and a congratulatory post about a year 9 St John Fisher College girl making the QLD AFL side stood out. I contacted the school media centre, and had to settle for a questionnaire via email and supplied photos. 



Robert Thornton

LIKE many Year 9 students, Brighton resident Daisy Carter has big dreams, but now she’s about to live one of them when she plays AFL for the Queensland team.

Originally from Ballarat, Victoria, Carter got into AFL when her younger brother’s team needed some extra players, and Daisy hasn’t looked back since.

The St John Fisher College student is excited by the idea of playing for Queensland.

“It will give me the chance to learn more skills and meet people,” she said.

In the past, Carter had played hockey, but said she loved AFL more. This love eventually developed into a passion.

These days, she plays for the Sandgate Hawks, who are very proud of her achievement.

She has been inspired in recent years by the AFLW, particularly the women’s Lions team.

“I would love to go far in AFL and someday play for AFLW,” she said.

“(I) would consider it as a career,” she said.

Northside boy scores Bulls gig

To put this story together, I was supplied with a press release listing the Queensland Bull’s squad for the 2018/19 season. The editor forwarded me a  phone number for a media person from Queensland cricket, who gave me contact details for two local rookies, and I wrote a story on both of them. This one focuses on one of the boys, Nathan McSweeney.


Robert Thornton

NORTHSIDE local Nathan McSweeney, who came onto the Gabba to field in last year’s Ashes test, has been included in the 2018-19 Queensland Bulls squad.

The 19-year-old batting allrounder already has some incredible figures to his name, including a knock of 154 against PNG in an Under 19s World Cup Game.

While attending Nudgee College he represented Norths, but he also captained the Queensland Under 17 side to a title in the 2015-16 season.

Now he’s ready to join the big boys, a list which includes big names like Usman Khawaja and Matthew Renshaw, who were also announced on the squad.

Queensland Cricket’s Stephen Gray said now is a great time to be welcoming new players into the squad.

“Coming into a shield-winning squad is a great opportunity for up-and-coming players, and Nathan is certainly one of them,” Gray said.

“It’s a good time for young players, and Nathan looks like he could develop quite quickly.

“He’s predominantly a batsman, but he bowls a bit of off spin as well.”

McSweeney said his run to the Queensland squad hasn’t been without its setbacks though.

“I remember when I missed out on the Australian Under 15s selection it hurt a bit, but I’m lucky enough to have made most of the teams I’ve tried out for,” McSweeney said.

“I think I’ve been lucky with injuries too, and as a batsman you don’t tend to get the back injuries that the bowlers get.”

McSweeney has already had a taste of being on the Australian side, when he came onto field during the Ashes test in Brisbane last year.

“Being in the change room and seeing these superstars makes you tell yourself why you want to do this,” Mc Sweeney said.

“Seeing the Gabba packed out, the atmosphere, and being able to sit in on the team chats is certainly very motivating.”

McSweeney now gets to train with some of the people he’s looked up to for years.

“As a young fellow I always wanted to be professional and now I’m one step closer – it’s pretty exciting to be able to train with Australian players like Usman (Khawaja), Matt (Renshaw) and Joe (Burns) as well,” McSweeney said.

“I’m just hoping to crack a shield side.”

Students learn where food comes from

This story was put together when the editor sent me a press release, and I made a call to the media contact on the release. I was able to organize a time to come down to the event, which was walking distance from the News Corp building. Once there, I gained permission to interview a teacher and a student. Photos where supplied the following day.

Abbey Seeto, St Columba's School

Robert Thornton

MORE than 1,100 primary school students and teachers learnt about where their food comes from at the Royal Queensland Show’s (Ekka) annual Rural Discovery Day.

Students from 14 schools descended on Brisbane Showgrounds on May 24 to learn first-hand the essential role farmers play in feeding and clothing livestock.

Now in its 15th year, the event champions Queensland’s agricultural industry by bringing farmers to the city.

Queensland farmers and producers showed students how to shear sheep, care for horses, grow edible plants, set up a worm farm and even make their own lamb meatball wraps.

The students and teachers also took a visit to the Farmyard Friends Exhibit, with lambs, chickens, piglets, kid goats and many more for the students to see.

St Columba’s Primary School teacher Ricardo Bonasia said it’s important for children of this generation to know that food doesn’t just come straight from supermarkets.

“(In class) we’ve been looking at how weather impacts environments, and therefore famers,” Mr Bonasia said. “We’re trying to think globally – outside the classroom.”

Mr Bonasia said the Rural Discovery was not just for the children.

“This is actually my first Rural Discovery, so I’m quite excited to see the displays and presentations, and see what the children make of it all,” Mr Ricardo said.

Eight-year-old St Columba’s student Jett Andersen was very excited for a day of learning outside the classroom.

“I really want to see the aquarium,” Andersen said.

“It’s fun being with all my friends and I liked when I got to answer one of the questions, which I got correct.”

Edwards to join Bull’s charge to summer

To put this story together, I was supplied with a press release listing the Queensland Bull’s squad for the 2018/19 season. The editor forwarded me a  phone number for a media person from Queensland cricket, who gave me contact details for two local rookies, and I wrote a story on both of them. This one focuses on one of the boys, Blake Edwards.


Robert Thornton

QUEENSLAND Cricket has included three new rookies to their 2018-19 Bulls squad, including westside quick Blake Edwards.

While the 19-year-old missed a lot of last year’s season through injury, his recent form has impressed selectors.

Growing up in Kenmore, Edwards attended Brisbane State High School and played for Wests.

He has been in the Queensland Cricket system for a while, and his potential as a fast bowler was recognised during his school days.

Now he’s ready to join the big boys, a list that includes fellow tearaway quick Billy Stanlake, who was also announced on the squad.

Stephen Gray from Queensland Cricket said Edwards will see the inclusion to the squad as motivation to work harder.

“He has experience in all formats, and he took 31 wickets last year playing first grade, so he’s well and truly ready to start developing the rest of his game,” Gray said.

“He’s followed a familiar path to other young blokes coming through; he’s had some success, a few setbacks, but he’s always had to work hard and be patient.

“He also had Andy Bichel as a coach, so he’s been lucky with that opportunity.

“With Blake – and other fast bowlers – you have to be patient and give them a chance to get stronger with time.”

Edwards said despite his injuries, there was some good that came out of them.

“The time off the field gave me a chance to find more a love for the gym, which meant I got a lot stronger, and that’s important for a fast bowler,” Edwards said.

Securing a spot in the squad was very motivating for Edwards.

“I’ve been trying to get in for the last few seasons,” Edwards said.

“But really, I just want to be a regular face in the second 11, have a good pre-season, keep playing for my club, and just play as much cricket as I can.”

BBC boy’s form above par

I had the idea for the story when visiting the Brisbane Boys’ College Facebook page, where I noticed a post congratulating a student who had been invited to compete at the World Junior Golf Championships.  I was able to contact the school, but given that the student was very busy, I had to settle for a questionnaire style interview via email and supplied photos.

Sam Slater

Robert Thornton

BRISBANE Boys’ College student Sam Slater has just punched his ticket to the World Junior Golf Championships, happening in Indonesia later this year.

But the Queensland Intercollegiate Gold Association (QIGA) member didn’t have to qualify for the event.

He was invited.

Slater, now in Year 11, has some impressive accolades to his name, including Queensland Schoolboy Champion for which he captained the team.

He is also the current Junior Champion at The Brisbane Golf Club.

Slater is looking forward to embarking on this new chapter in his career.

“I have been fortunate enough to play golf across most of Australia and I am looking forward to the experience of playing a tournament in another country,” he said.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for me to gain valuable experience at an international event.”

Slater has his sights set high for this event, with the start list’s world-class talent of no deterrence.

“(Winning) the title would be nice, but if that’s not to be, then the experience of playing an international event with competitors from all over the world should be an experience I’m sure not to forget,” he said.

Slater is grateful for the help he has received to get where he is, and knows he wouldn’t be achieving this highly without a few people.

“(Rob Kennedy, Slater’s first coach) taught me to love the game and gave me the belief,” he said.

“I would also like to thank my (current) coach Lee Eagleton.”

“The Brisbane Golf Club has been an excellent source of support, but my parents are, of course, the ones who have helped me get this far.”

Eatons Hill girl named Met North Captain

I came up with this story by searching the social media pages of schools in the northern suburbs, and a post about a young girl being named captain for the Metropolitan North netball team for her age group stood out. I ended up contacting the school, organizing a face-to-face interview, and heading out to Clayfield College for a lunch time interview and photo shoot.


Robert Thornton

BEING named as a Metropolitan North Netball team captain is big news, given that Netball is one of the most heavily-participated sports in Australia.

That’s exactly what Clayfield College student Makenzie Robbins did, and she’s got her sights set even higher for next year.

The Year 8 student started netball from the age of five with NetSetGo, before training with Pine Rivers Netball Association, and then Brisbane Netball Association, where she trains now.

Robbins, 13, is excited to play for her metropolitan area, but is still aiming higher.

“There’s a lot of good competition out there,” the Eatons Hill resident said. “But I want to really push myself to get into the Queensland team next year.”

To be the best, Robbins draws inspiration from the best.

“I look up to Laura Geitz (former Australian team captain), because she’s a defender like me, and I’d love to be like her one day,” she said.

But despite the success, the young netballer still loves every part of the game for the game’s sake.

“I love the running around and the way you’re always moving,” she said. “And the feeling you get when you turn the ball around and get a win for your team.”

Robbins’ team will compete at the State Championships later this year.