Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Lizzie Georgostathis

Episode 33: Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Lizzie Georgostathis

As an elite athlete and early career teacher, Elisabeth (Lizzie) Georgostathis knows the power of inspiring hearts and minds.

Show notes

Whether on the field as a Western Bulldogs AFLW player or in the classroom, Lizzie is someone who motivates everyone she meets.

I had a wonderful chat with Lizzie on the eve of her graduation – she is the first in her family to graduate from university. Today, Lizzie received her Bachelor of Education degree, and multiple generations of her family cheered from the crowd.

It was fantastic to see and we hope she continues to kick goals in her career!



Adam Shoemaker

Adam Shoemaker

Professor Adam Shoemaker has extensive experience in the Australian University sector and is one of Australia's leading researchers in Indigenous literature and culture. He commenced as the Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University in December 2020 after four years as Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University. He spent his formative years in a diverse range of fields, such as reviewer and columnist for The Australian, an ABC Canberra Radio programmer, serving as chair of the Brisbane Writers Festival in the mid-1990s and spending three years with the Delegation of the Commission of the European Committees.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello and welcome. I'm here to provide acknowledgement of country. For those who don't know me, I'm kj Karen Jackson, director of Moon Balletic. My genealogy tracks back to Moira Lakes in Barma Forest and Mount Hope in Pyramid Hill. Giving me my connections to Yorta, Yorta, and Barra language groups. There's a couple of things I'd like you to take away from my acknowledgement. The first is to remember the hidden history of Aboriginal people since invasion, our loss of language removal from country, and our new extinction from massacres and pandemics. The second is our strong and inherent connection to community and country. These connections have given us the resilience and courage to rebuild our languages, gain access to country, regenerate our cultural practices in acknowledging the traditional owners of the country on which you are now on. I'd like to sincerely thank them for their generosity and kindness in welcoming people onto their lands. Lands never seeded and lands that run deep into their being and spirit. I wish to pay my deep respect to the ancestors, elders, communities, and families of the Ang Wri on whose land I stand and who create connection and share knowledge with all of us. Thank you.

Speaker 2 00:01:18 Hello, colleagues. My name is Adam Shoemaker and I'm really delighted to be the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University. I'm also the host of this podcast, which I love called People of vu, and we delve in it into the fascinating stories and achievements of the really exceptional individuals who make up the vibrant community of Victoria University in the broad. And before we start, thank you kj. As always, for the acknowledgement of country we just heard, I also want to not just acknowledge, but pay deep respects to ancestors, to elders, to families, to all community members and traditional owners on every one of our campuses, wherever they may be. And can I also extend that to whoever you may be listening to the podcast. So, as you know, very soon, thousands of students at VU will be dawning their gowns and caps for our 2024 March graduations.

Speaker 2 00:02:08 It's one of the absolute highlights of the year for everyone. Amongst them will be Elizabeth known as Lizzie, Georgia STAs, an AB A FLW, Western Bulldogs player, and a wonderful student too. Lizzie recently completed a Bachelor of Education P to 12. P to 12 stands. Stands for primary to year 12. Yes. Yep. At vu, all the while climbing up the A FLW ladder. And it's a long climb since 2019. She's a midfielder turned defender and was awarded the 2022 Bulldog's Best Young Player Award and finished second in the entire 2023 A FLW, best and fairest count. Those are all amazing things. Lizzie, it's absolutely great to have you participate here now, but also thank you for the open day participation, all the student events, and I really can't wait to learn more about you. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having me. It's really great. Thank you. So here, here we have someone. I think it's the first time we've ever had a professional footballer on this podcast. And yet you've managed to do effectively almost full-time study as well. Yes. How did you, could you have balance these two things

Speaker 3 00:03:12 At times? It's tricky, but I am a person who, I love to be busy. I always love to be doing something and like some people think I'm crazy, some people think I do too much sometimes. But no, I've ever since, you know, I left school, I, I like having that busy schedule. So yeah, I would come, I would actually work as well outside of

Speaker 2 00:03:34 For money. Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:03:35 Yeah. But outside of football as well. So I used to do before and after school care. So my usual day would consist of like a before school care, coming to uni, doing my studies, and then either going to after school care or going to footy training. But yeah, I don't know. I, I'm a person who likes to always be busy. I don't, I like my downtime. Mm. But I also, yeah, I like that busy schedule and I feel like that's what motivated me.

Speaker 2 00:04:00 That's so great. Yeah. I mean, have you always been like that or was it something that's grown as you've, you know, gotten older? Were you, what would you like as a child? Were you very active as well?

Speaker 3 00:04:08 I think I was a very active child. Probably feel bad for my parents, keeping them on their toes. But yeah, I think ever since I was young and I can remember, I would always have footy training or some type of training after school where there was, I started playing netball when I was a bit younger. But yeah, I would have trainings four to five times a week after school. And then on the weekends I'd be playing netball or footy or, yeah, I was always, always doing something. And yeah, credit to my parents for driving me places and doing everything they do for me. I'm really grateful for them. But yeah.

Speaker 2 00:04:41 So can I wind it back? Can you remember the very, very first time you went to say an A FL game? Like, do you remember that event where it

Speaker 3 00:04:49 Was Yeah, I do. I went to the very first AFL W Match Carlton? Yes. At Umic Icon Park. Yep. Yeah, it was, I think I was with a friend and maybe my mom, dad, maybe brothers. I can't, not a hundred percent sure. But yeah, that was amazing. The crowd, that atmosphere, it was incredible. And to see so many supporters and just like a variety of different people coming for this one event, obviously it was a sellout, but it, it was just amazing to see.

Speaker 2 00:05:18 Now just wind it back for me. Where did you go to school? Where was that?

Speaker 3 00:05:22 So primary school, I went to Sydney Hillside Primary School. So that was in my local area. And then high school I moved to Gladstone Park. Okay. One, my dad works there, so it made it very easy to get there. Didn't have to catch a bus or anything. And yeah, we, it was a good school. I went and joined this like, it was like immersion program, which was like an advanced Italian. So my background, half of it is I'm Italian, my mom's side is from Italy and stuff. Great. So that was really cool, I suppose to, you know, advance in that language. So I'd spent three years learning Italian. So I'll do like history in Italian, learn obviously just the basics. Italian. And I'll do maths in Italian

Speaker 2 00:06:05 Now, maths in Italian. That would be super interesting. We used to do maths in French. Yes. Because I grew up in Ottawa, so it was bilingual as well. And the hardest thing was sometimes when you got to formulas and things like that where it seemed to be like a very different word. Indeed. Yeah. Was it like that in Italian as well?

Speaker 3 00:06:20 It was and wasn't. A lot of the things that were explained to us was in Italian, but then our teacher always made sure that we obviously firstly stood, understood in English. And when it came to formulas, at the end of the day, it's all numbers. True numbers are the same in whatever language. Yes. But yeah, no, it was, it was a very cool experience. I'm very grateful I had that. And it helped me, I suppose, to grow my Italian.

Speaker 2 00:06:45 And Have you been to Italy?

Speaker 3 00:06:46 No, but I'm actually going in 12 days. 12 days. Not counting.

Speaker 2 00:06:50 How did we not know this? That's amazing. Yes,

Speaker 3 00:06:52 Yes. So I'm going to Greece and Italy for Yeah, about month, so, so

Speaker 2 00:06:57 This is post-graduation,

Speaker 3 00:06:58 Post-graduation.

Speaker 2 00:06:59 Oh, how great. And they see the timing of this is wonderful on many different layers. Yes. You know, it's just superb. Yeah. So think about that, that time. So in terms of study, was there a particular teacher who stood a apart above all the others who might have inspired your later career? Was there one who really stands out from the crowd?

Speaker 3 00:07:17 I don't know. That's a hard one. Probably. I, I did have some really good teachers growing up. I think when I was little, I didn't see footy as a big thing. I suppose A FLW is very new, I think. Well, only nine seasons in or something. So it is still very new. So growing up in primary school, I didn't really look at that, oh, I'm, I wanna play footy one day because it wasn't there for me. But yeah, when I got a bit older, I, I always, ever since I was little, I liked to be active. I liked sports, but I think it was just like every time I would go into my PE class, I would, I would love it. And I was always, you know, one of the most active girls, you know? Yeah. Yeah. As you get a bit older, you can see the decline in girls that actually want to participate in sports, especially at school. 'cause you know, they get worried about sweating or the judgment of others and stuff. Yeah. But I was always the one that, you know, would try and beat the boys and, and That's great

Speaker 2 00:08:13 Though. Yeah.

Speaker 3 00:08:14 I'd be proud of that. And I think I had really, the PE teachers were all very supportive of that. You know, they never brought me down. They never thought, oh no, I need, the boys can do that. So yeah. A credit to I suppose a PE teachers that, you know, and they just pushed for the girls to, you know, participate and compete against the boys.

Speaker 2 00:08:34 I think that's fantastic. Absolutely. Well, look, I'm a bit biased, but I took phys ed as we called it. Yes. In Canada, right through to year 13. We had 13 years of high school. Yeah. And then I just, I was sad when it ended. Right. Yeah. You know, so in my case, we used to go in athletics or running every weekend off to competitions, but it was the male and female teams together. Yeah. So the bus rides were hilarious. Yeah. In both directions. It was so much fun, you know? Yeah. So you kind of re respected people just as athletes. Yeah. You know, and as people, so that's really great. You did the same. Yeah. So was there, you said netball was sort of your second sport, is that right?

Speaker 3 00:09:04 No, so I, netball was my first class. Oh, your first.

Speaker 2 00:09:07 So yes.

Speaker 3 00:09:08 I, okay. When I was little, I think when I was about four, five years old, I first started doing athletics. Oh, you did? Yeah. So it was me and my little brothers. I know something to keep us busy. Yeah. So I did that for maybe four or five years. And then I moved over to netball probably when I was about eight, nine. Yeah. Played that probably 15, 16 maybe. So yeah, netball was my first sport. I absolutely loved it. I just, you know, it's a team environment and I think it's very different just to athletics. You're obviously, you are doing it on your own. Yeah. It's only for yourself and stuff. But yeah, no, moving over to netball, I really enjoyed it. I, I would probably play about four, five games a week. Wow.

Speaker 2 00:09:50 That's a

Speaker 3 00:09:50 Lot too. Yeah, it was a lot. So there's obviously lots of different comps going on. Be like Monday night here, Tuesday night here. I also got into like a little rep team. So Yeah. Obviously I had to train for that. And then

Speaker 2 00:10:03 What position were you playing mostly?

Speaker 3 00:10:05 Center. Center. Oh,

Speaker 2 00:10:06 Midco,

Speaker 3 00:10:06 Mid court. I was always like a runner. Yep. Probably too short. Obviously netball was a bit taller. So the on one end and the other end, there's a tall shooters and defenders being in the middle, you know, and you can get away with being small,

Speaker 2 00:10:17 You can do, but it sounds like you were a fast runner right from the go. Yes.

Speaker 3 00:10:19 Yeah. Yeah. I, I like to think so. Yeah. But yeah. And then I just, one day I was like, I might try footy out.

Speaker 2 00:10:26 So now let talk about this one day. This one day you thought. Yes. Because it doesn't sound like, you know, just some weekend you wake up and think footy. Yeah. Did something happen to put it in your mind? Like how did that occur? Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:10:37 It probably was a very spontaneous decision. How was that really? Yeah, it was honestly one day, I think, so my brothers obviously, I have two brothers. They play football. It was at East Keilor. And one day a post came out, they were like, oh, we're trying for a youth girls team. And I was like, why not? Like, why not go give it a girl? I'd always go watch my brothers play. I'll do like boundary umpire for them. Or I would always help out in some way. I would always watch the games. And I was like, you know what, why not give it a go? So I went down and there's probably about three or four girls that turned up with a coach. And I was like, oh, well, you know, it's disappointing. But like, I think we had a few kicks, we did some handballs, it's still fun.

Speaker 3 00:11:19 I enjoyed it. But I thought, well, four girls, obviously that's not enough to fill a team. Mm. So I thought, oh, well, I gave it a go, but that's it. But then lucky enough, the coach, she was very interested in trying to get a team and bring a team together. So she joined with St. Alban's. Ah, okay. So we all moved over to St. Auburn's and we got a few more numbers. So there's probably about 10 of us. Yep. I tried to gather some of my friends, my close friends, because I was like, come on, come on. A couple of them came and yeah, so I played that year. It wasn't many games. It was probably about four, five. But, 'cause every week we were struggling for numbers. I think you had to field at least 13. Yep. But yeah, it was, it was a, at the start, it was a really big struggle to try and find those girls that wanted to do it. And

Speaker 2 00:12:08 What year was that, Lizzie?

Speaker 3 00:12:09 So, oh, I would've been, I think I was 13. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, not, I'm not sure what year that was, but I've got 11 years ago now. 11 years

Speaker 2 00:12:17 Ago. Yeah. Okay.

Speaker 3 00:12:18 But yeah, so it was, it was a struggle that first year, but I really enjoyed it. Like, I don't remember my first game actually stepping out, but I know that first year, like I loved playing. I loved the physicality of it.

Speaker 2 00:12:29 Sounds

Speaker 3 00:12:30 Like it. Yeah. And I suppose when you compare it to netball, you know, netball, it's a non-contact sport. Yeah. And I was sort of known for, you know, always being rough or always getting sent off the court because I would give the girls or elbows or something. And yeah. So I think it was a good change to netball.

Speaker 2 00:12:49 It probably channeled your style in the right direction, right, yeah. From what you're saying. Yeah. Sounds like

Speaker 3 00:12:53 It. Yeah. And I, I grew up with two brothers look. Right. I, I had little, my Barbie dolls and stuff, but I grew up with two brothers who were, you know, always outside. Always. Yeah. Always fighting, play fighting or, you know, doing, doing something active and physical. So, yeah.

Speaker 2 00:13:08 Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So look, when you become a teacher Yes. Will you teach phys ed? Is that one of the things you hope to do?

Speaker 3 00:13:13 Well, so I'm actually teaching Yes. At the moment. You're, okay. So I'm doing casual relief teaching. Yeah. Which is just like substitute when teachers are away. But during uni, obviously if to pick a major and a minor, so my major was pe, physical ed. Mm. And then my minor was health. Oh, good. So eventually one day, maybe when my foot is over and stuff, when I go into full-time teaching, I'll probably take a PE or health classes. Yeah. But yeah, at the moment with my CRTI am just sort of like filling in the gaps where teachers are away. But I do get like mainly PE classes and yeah, it's been really good and a good experience to see.

Speaker 2 00:13:54 And CRT is casual relief teaching. Yes. Yeah, that's right. Right. Yeah. Pretty

Speaker 3 00:13:57 Sure.

Speaker 2 00:13:57 Yeah. No, that's great. Look. Well, can I just ask you then, you've had, you know, amazing successes, like, we've watched this, right? Yes. And we love to look back at the videos. We look at the Yes. You know, the promos, everything you've done. And it's, I mean, it's not all successful though. Were there any setbacks that you had and how can you remember how you sort of got got around them? Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:14:15 I think a really big one, and it obviously affected a lot of people, was covid. So I think in my first year, it was the first month I came to uni, I loved it. Like, you know, I met so many new people, made some friends. But yeah, a month later it all got canceled or it didn't get canceled, it just got put online. It was very strange. It was very different, like unexpected. Yeah. And that continued on all the way to the end of my third year. So it was just one, it was hard to find that motivation, obviously just staying at home, finding that motivation to, you know, actually get up, sit on my desk, spend three, two or three hours listening to the teacher and doing Completeing the work. That was very difficult. And then also, you know, you didn't have that social interaction and connection with others. And I, I

Speaker 2 00:15:06 Would've thought teaching it would've been one of the most difficult. Yes. Because it's such a social Yes. Profession, you know what I mean? Yes. You're changing hearts and minds and there you are on the screen doing it. Yeah. And of course, many people said that was one of the things that kind of militated against learning, especially if you're a younger child. Yeah. You know? Yeah. And so when, when you're talking about p do you like the P and or the 12 end? Like, I mean, what sort of your ideal age group?

Speaker 3 00:15:28 I, so obviously coming from my previous job, the before and after school care, I was working with primary school kids. I loved them. I love little kids. I just feel like, in a way I'm still a little kid at heart. Yep. And like I can, you know, connect with them and I can play with them and stuff. So I think I'm sort of leaning more towards primary at the moment. But I have enjoyed doing my casual relief teaching at high school. It's very different. I think both have their pros and cons, you know? Yeah. You don't obviously have to baby the high school kids. Yes. But you do get a bit of attitude from them. But yeah, I think eventually I'll try and go into a primary school, see how it is, see yeah. If I like it and yeah. I just choose from there.

Speaker 2 00:16:10 And do the primary kids know that you play Ffl? Ffl, FLW? Do they know that?

Speaker 3 00:16:15 So I haven't worked at a primary school this year as a teacher, yes. But yes, my, I I mother before enough school care they did. They did? Yes.

Speaker 2 00:16:22 Did they excite them?

Speaker 3 00:16:23 Yes, they did. They loved it. Yeah. Oh, that's nice. And because it was, and it was just really good to see, you know, those young kids, especially young boys, just like being so excited and know, telling all their friends like, oh my God, she's an A FLW player. Because you don't really hear that. Obviously the young boys probably look up to the, to the men, the AFL boys. But to see them excited for the A FLW and they would go home, tell the parents and be like, I'm gonna watch her game. I'm gonna watch like, you know, my teacher play it. Really? Yeah. It like, it really hit a spot. Like it, it meant a lot.

Speaker 2 00:16:57 I think that's superb. In fact the, the break of open nature of AFL W Yeah. So big, especially for young people like that. Yeah. You know? Yeah. It changes all the role models, changes all the possibilities and probably means next time they want to create a team, it won't be like scratching to get Yes. Eight players and then 13 players. You just go snap like that and people want to play. Yeah. So, and did you, and did you get two actually play footie with some of the kids as well? Or are

Speaker 3 00:17:22 They, yeah, so a lot of the time, because we were, the company was sort of big on, you know, like go to your strengths. And my strength was, well I like to be in the gym. I like to always be doing a physical activity with these students. And a lot of time, yes it was footy because that's what I'm good at. But yes, I would always take the kids in the gym, you know, would have a kick to kick. Yeah. But yeah, they, they loved it. I loved it. And yeah, it was really good.

Speaker 2 00:17:49 So why do you think Australian, that's a hard question, but why are, why is everyone so crazy about footy? What's, what is it about the game do you think that just grabs everyone?

Speaker 3 00:17:58 It's a hard one. Maybe. I think it's a very different sport too. I love different things, but one big thing for me is like the team environment. I, so obviously coming from athletics is by yourself, but I don't know, I think just in a team environment, there's, in our list there's 30 of us, there's so many different personalities, there's so many people, different people you can connect with. And I think that's what makes us special. And especially at the Bulldogs, like we are so welcoming of like so of all different personalities no matter who you are or like what you bring. I think that's what makes it really special.

Speaker 2 00:18:38 I noticed too, when I visited a few times senior play, when the photos were on all these things, everyone had an incredible sense of camaraderie and also sense of humor. Yes. You know, like there's a lot of laughter in the room. Yeah. Is there laughter even after games? I know you can't always win, but Yes. But is there that kind of positive atmosphere? Yeah,

Speaker 3 00:18:55 I think it, it, it is very positive. I think at the end of the day, yes, it's our job and stuff, but we are still, you know, playing footy together. It is about having fun and I think when we have fun, that's when we play our best football. Obviously last year was a very challenging year for us. Yeah. We only won the one game, but to see how much we stuck together as a team Yeah. Was really special. Yeah. Obviously it didn't go our way at all, but I felt as a group we got so much closer and yeah, we just sort of like, you know, lent on each other and we were there for each other the whole way. And you know, we had, yeah, we would be a bit sad after the games and stuff, but the next day, you know, let's move on and let's look forward to, you know, feeding the next team the next round.

Speaker 2 00:19:46 And the great thing about sport is that no one ever stays at the top. Yes. Forever nor at the bottom forever. And it moves around so much. Yeah. It must be hard sometimes be to be one of the best players when not everyone is achieving quite as well. Yeah. But look, that's part of, of what leadership is about. Yes. Do you feel like a bit of a leader on the team?

Speaker 3 00:20:02 A little bit, yeah. I think, I'm not as loud as some of the other girls, but I think when I'm just like out on the field and stuff, I hope, I hope that I show, you know, some leadership qualities to the other girls and stuff. But yeah. And I think especially this year, we've got a lot of new girls coming in, a lot of younger girls. So even though I'm 20, only 22, I feel like I am one of the older girls now. It's funny. One more experienced to expect these

Speaker 2 00:20:27 Chose veterans when you're 22. You know, it's, I

Speaker 3 00:20:30 Know, I know. It's a funny too, but yeah, it's, it's a weird one but yeah.

Speaker 2 00:20:34 Well you've been inspiring everybody here at vu. The open day has been amazing. Like I watch what you did and just the way that people generated just some passion for the place. So I do have friends at, at vu other than in education as well, doing other, other courses at all.

Speaker 3 00:20:51 Not really, no.

Speaker 2 00:20:51 So mainly in that field.

Speaker 3 00:20:53 Yeah. I think it's just mainly in that field and you know, some classes you'd sort of clash with like, you know, people from different courses, especially with like the PE classes and the health, 'cause obviously they would sometimes be studying different things, but I think a lot of the time it was just, you know, the people in the education classes. But no, I did make some really good friends with their, the guys in their education field course. But yeah, it's

Speaker 2 00:21:19 Such a great course. I went, went and had a look at the early childhood program last week. Yes. With two year olds, you know, and they had this group of 17 two year olds and they let them loose on the grounds of Foot Schwarz. Grain Nicholson campus and said, let's see how they go with this wagon. Yeah. Right. And so they actually organized themselves. And so two of them were pushing the wagon, two of them were pulling the wagon and two sat in the wagon. And I don't know who had the best job, but they actually worked it out themselves. Themselves. Yeah. It was really incredible to watch, you know, so it's not as if teaching isn't always telling. Yes. It's sometimes unleashing ing them. Yeah. You know, it was fascinating to watch. Right. Yeah. Almost like play-based learning, I think they call it. You know, which is really great thing. Yes. So let's get back to you this week. Graduating. Yes. Who's gonna be there cheering you on? Oh,

Speaker 3 00:22:03 I've got a few people. I got, obviously my parents are coming in and my older brother and my nana and my, my ya so my great grandma as well.

Speaker 2 00:22:14 Oh, fantastic. Yeah. So really multiple generations? Yes. Oh, superb. Yes. And so have they ever been to a graduation before?

Speaker 3 00:22:23 My parents haven't. No. So I'm the first child to graduate in the family. And the only, wow. I don't think my nana has. And then my, my great grandma, she, I think she went to my dad's a while ago. Yeah. She's also a teacher. But yeah. So it's

Speaker 2 00:22:40 Pretty big

Speaker 3 00:22:40 Deal's. A first for most of them. Yes.

Speaker 2 00:22:42 It's a first for most of them. Yes. Like it's a first for the majority Yes. Of people who come. And one of the things you'll notice we do is we ask people how many different languages they speak at home. Yeah. And sometimes it's 3, 4, 5, sometimes even six Yes. Languages. Yeah. Like, that's so unusually wonderful. Yeah. For vu and for the community that we're part of. You know, it's just such a great thing. Yeah. So I, I look, I can't promise you that we'll have a footy on stage. Yeah. But we'll certainly have you on stage. Yeah. And when you go across, it'll be just as loud as when you score, you know, like take, take a really great mark in the game or something like that. You know, specky. Yeah. You know, be a specky. It'll be a specky Grady, shall we say? Yes. That's great. But look, thanks a million for your time today. I can tell that your interests are so strongly community focused, but also excellence focused and it's just wonderful to hear your views on it. Thanks so much. Thank you.

Speaker 3 00:23:29 Thank you for having me too. Cheers.

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