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Student Stories

Ready to take on the world in 2020

My time at ACG has been absolutely incredible and I couldn't have wished for a better-quality education and overall experience. I am eternally thankful for the many hours that my teachers have put into my learning throughout the years
- Lily Balsom, ACG Tauranga alumna

Chasing the winter has become a full-time occupation for freeride skier and ACG Tauranga alumna, Lily Balsom. This high-octane lifestyle has meant 2019 was an eventful time for the talented fifteen-year-old, combining her intense training and competition schedule with her busy academic life.

Lily began last year in the midst of the Canadian winter and was also an active participant in the New Zealand ski season, yet she maintained her Year 11 IGCSE coursework from ACG Tauranga throughout.

Lily’s teachers organised an extramural programme for her while she was living in Ohakune during term three, which allowed her to manage her studies and assessments around her training needs. Thanks to her hard work and positive attitude, Lily arrived for term four up-to-date and ready for the external exams with a solid understanding of the course content.

“I loved having the flexibility of being able to ski in the morning or afternoon and complete schoolwork around that,” says Lily. “All of my teachers were very supportive of my skiing and it wouldn’t have been possible without their assistance. l learnt a lot about myself and realised how well I am able to work individually.

“At ACG, I have not only improved by leaps and bounds academically, I have learnt many lifelong skills that will stick with me wherever my sport takes me.”

While healthy now, 2019 was an injury plagued year for the young star, including two fractured heels in Canada and a cracked tibial plateau while training at Canterbury’s Mount Olympus in September.

“I was able to do one competition of the NZJFT (New Zealand Junior Freeride Tour) at The Remarkables, where I successfully came away with a third placing in the Under 18 Women’s category,” reports Lily. “I was pretty happy with this result; however, I broke my leg less than a week after that, which meant the end of my competition season.”

“Since being out of my leg brace, I have been going to the gym five days a week and doing lots of physio. The University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance has helped me so much in the past year and I have a lot to thank my gym trainers for.”

While Lily’s skiing commitments mean she will not be returning to ACG Tauranga this year, she will complete her education through online learning.

“In 2020, I will spend January to April training with the Whistler Freeride Club in Whistler Blackcomb, Canada. During this time, I will be competing in a few IFSA (International Freeskiing & Snowboarding Association) competitions.

“Then I’ll be moving back to Ohakune over our winter and travelling down to the South Island to compete in the New Zealand Junior Freeride Tour (NZIFT) for my fifth year.

“My time at ACG has been absolutely incredible and I couldn’t have wished for a better-quality education and overall experience. I am eternally thankful for the many hours that my teachers have put into my learning throughout the years.”