Tyson Huia excited about Academy Southland role
Whenever Tyson Huia wonders whether the challenge might be too much, he looks to the message on his wrist.
Academy Southland’s new strength and conditioning coach, who replaces the Victorian Institute of Sport-bound Cory Innes, wears a silicon band from the New Zealand Fallen Heroes Trust, which supports the families of our service men and women who died doing their duty to our country.
It’s a cause close to Huia’s heart, having served for a decade in the New Zealand Army infantry, including five overseas deployments ranging from East Timor to the Solomons and Afghanistan.
Huia thought he might spend the rest of his life in the military, but after meeting wife Jess, who works for Netball South, he started to think about what else life might offer.
The pair were involved in personal training in Melbourne and ran a gym and Huia realised he needed qualifications in order to go further.
That prompted a move to Invercargill to study a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise at the Southern Institute of Technology.
“I think what I’ve learnt so far, especially through my time at SIT, is that you have to get out there. I’m not from here and I’ve worked hard to get my foot in the door. I’m really grateful to everyone who has helped me get to where I am.”
Huia said his tutors at SIT, particularly Hennie Pienaar, had gone out of their way to assist him through his studies, while he worked part-time and developed his skills in the ‘real world’ with a number of local sports sides.
It’s been a slightly unorthodox approach to his development, but it’s paid dividends.
Huia has been involved with Rugby Southland for the past three years, working with the Rugby Southland Academy, the wider training squad and later assisting with the Stags.
He’s also spent time in schoolboys and women’s rugby, including a personal highlight of being part of last year’s successful Southland women’s sevens programme.
Alongside that he’s assisted the Southern Steel’s trainer, helped the Southland rugby league team and trained the NBL champion Southland Sharks - all while continuing his studies and holding down two or three part-time jobs.
“I’ve gone out and knocked on doors. I’m not afraid to hear the word ‘no’, and luckily I’ve had a few yesses,” he said.
“I’m very appreciative. I’m from big cities - I’ve lived in Auckland, Melbourne and spent time in Christchurch with the army, and being down here, it’s such a passionate province and people will support you hard out.”
Huia is excited about the opportunity to work in the Mike Piper Training Centre with Academy Southland development athletes across a range of codes.
“Opportunities don’t come around like this very often, especially for a student. The development athletes are great to work with, you have a lot of scope to develop that foundation. I’m also excited about working with the southern cycling hub riders as well because I’ve mainly been involved with team sports.”