Vince Atkinson is a man whose personality is reflected in his appearance.
With his old-fashioned combover and round-frame spectacles, Vince looks like a VCE English teacher. And his role at the Academy similarly requires both dexterity and composure.
As the High-Performance Manager, Vince oversees, reviews and triangulates the Redbacks’ overlap between the sports medical program, strength and conditioning program and the GPS program. His aim is to ensure that the playing group is ready for game day and ensure that the training workloads, treatment and data analysis are resulting in a best practice system.
Vince will spend hours during a week talking with the heads of programs.
Monday and it’s Jake Palmer, the GPS guru. Jake’s database output of the Redbacks’ running numbers – total distance, endurance, time on ground, physical state post-match and week-to-week development of all of the above – is a crucial counterpoint to how the success of the Redbacks’ coaching and medical treatment.
Tuesday and it’s Matt Newbold and Riley Box on the phone as Vince asks the Academy’s strength and conditioning team how their players pulled up on Saturday. Any aches and pains? Especially amongst players whose training routines and match-day roles were under inspection the previous week?
At training on Tuesday and Thursday nights, Vince will consult the sports medical teams on the injuries and treatment of their patients and then report to the not only Riley and Matt but also Mitch and Gezim.
Any conversation Vince conducts with a program will be meaningful to the other two programs. Each impacts the conduct of the other.
“The Academy gives me more experience working with a high-performance team and managing all the different individual sports science and strength and conditioning programs,” says Vince. “Hopefully I’ll keep developing my knowledge of the industry.”
Vince was approached for a position at RMIT after heading up North Melbourne’s strength and conditioning program in the Kangaroos’ inaugural AFL Women’s season.
“When you’re setting a club up for VFL Women’s standard, you need someone to set up a strategy and a plan on how to interact with the sports medical team, the sports analytics team and set up a strength and conditioning program and then to have the three integrated you need someone sitting over the top,” says Chris O’Connor.
“Vince had come from AFLW and VFLW and he had the practicality to understand where the Academy was in its inaugural year but then to also build us towards a fully-fledged program as we got more resources and more experience.”
In the years to come, the executive committee intends for the Academy to expand across a variety of sporting codes. This will fit the RMIT Basketball program, also currently in its flagship year, under its umbrella and Vince’s role will expand further.
“Vince has a really unique ability to connect with the Strength & Conditioning team and joint the dots between the Strength & Conditioning team, the sports medical team and the coaching team,” says Sally Tanner.
“He has come into the fold really quickly and understood what we’re trying to do really quickly. His skillset is really highly valued and I can see him playing the role with our Big V Basketball team and supporting their growth and potentially our other tier-one clubs. His skills are beyond football but his ability to connect people is really strong, so he’s creating great culture amongst those programs and people within the Academy.”