SHE was the ace of beach volleyball who became a household name in Australian sport . . . and now Natalie Cook, OAM, will share her vast experience to inspire the next generation of young Australians as a Minerva Legend.
An Olympic Gold and Bronze Medallist, 5-time Olympian, international award-winning Wellness Coach, Author and Motivational Speaker, Cook joins the illustrious ranks of Minerva Legends who are helping our female sports stars to fulfil their potential on and off the field.
As the first Australian woman to compete at five Olympic Games, Cook is excited to share her secrets for success and to be a voice for women in sport.
“It was an honour to be asked to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of our greatest female athletes of all time, Laura Geitz, Liz Ellis, Jane Flemming, Jodie Fields, just to name a few. So to be asked to be part of that group who are ambassadors for women’s sport on and off the field is very special,” Cook said.
“I intend to be an advocate for female sport and leadership. Whether our Minerva stars are looking to be CEO’s, work in Government, Industry, the Community or as Coaches, I hope to help them fulfil their dreams.”
Minerva Legends are former elite female athletes who have excelled both on and off the field and are role models for Minerva Stars looking to capitalise on their success in the business world.
The Minerva Network was established in 2017 to help elite sportswomen identify and navigate commercial challenges and to become leaders in our community.
Minerva Network Chairman Christine McLoughlin said Cook, a trailblazer in Australian sport, would inspire a new generation of outstanding athletes.
“Everyone at the Minerva Network is delighted to have Natalie Cook join our team. As someone who carved her own path in the new sport of Beach Volleyball, and was one of our Golden Girls at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Natalie brings a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and heart to Minerva,” McLoughlin said.
As part of her welcome to the team, we sat down with Natalie to discover her thoughts on the new role:
Q. How did you feel when first asked to become a Minerva Legend?
A. It was an honour to be asked to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of our greatest female athletes of all time, Laura Geitz, Liz Ellis, Jane Flemming, Jodie Fields, just to name a few. So to be asked to be part of that group who are ambassadors for women’s sport on and off the field is very special
Q. What are you hoping to achieve in the role?
A. To be an advocate for female sport and leadership. Whether our Minerva stars are looking to be CEO’s, work in Government, Industry, the Community or as Coaches, I hope to help them fulfil their dreams. Our job as Minerva Legends is to help them trailblaze that path if it hasn’t already been undertaken, or lead them in the right direction so they can achieve all their dreams off the field as well.
Q. How do you hope your story will inspire today’s young stars?
A. Hopefully athletes can be inspired by the fact that we (beach volleyball) were a new sport – we really did have to trailblaze and carve our own path. We came in with zero funding, we had to build our results and then backfill our funding mechanisms. So hopefully a bit of resilience, character building, networking, understanding how to piece together a stable financial life is something I can help them with.
Q. What has your transition from sporting success to professional success been like? And what kind of advice are you hoping to offer young athletes navigating this world now?
A. I always knew beach volleyball wasn’t a high paying sport so, I built a second career along the way, mostly through networking, public and corporate speaking – so it’s been rather smooth. As a 5-time-Olympian I knew after 3 Olympics it was coming to the end so I had quite a long tail to build another life.
For our athletes of today it’s even more challenging – there’s so much noise out there, so much competition off the court for jobs. I’ll be trying to educate our athletes on what’s needed and help them with confidence building off the court so they can back themselves in any situation.
Q. What is your hope for Australia’s sports women in 2021?
A. That we get to showcase their talents at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and that the platform is available for them to shine and show the resilience they built throughout 2020. If there’s anything this has taught us it’s that we have to be flexible, adaptable, and that our athletes must start to build parallel careers or interests in areas other than their sporting life.