IAS History File


The Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in 1985 in order to “assist young talented high performance athletes in the region pursue sporting glory while remaining in the Illawarra” and has been the pioneer for the regional Academy model in Australian sport. It continues to provide equal opportunity, skill development and encouragement to talented young athletes and coaches within the Illawarra region to achieve excellence through sport while becoming young ambassadors for the Illawarra community, the Illawarra Academy of Sport and their valued partners.

The IAS currently operates athlete development programs across eight sports as well as an Individual Athlete Program and an Athlete with a Disability Program. These programs provide on-field technical skill development and physical development, and also a focus on personal and professional education so that we might positively influence the next generation of athletes and create better citizens within their community in the process.

In the early 1980's, in the backrooms of the University of Wollongong a small group of passionate sports people hatched the idea of 'assisting young talented high performance athletes in the region' pursue sporting glory while remaining in the Illawarra. If it wasn't for the persistence of this group with a big vision, the Illawarra Academy of Sport may never have seen the light of day.

It has long been acknowledged that prior to the establishment of the Academy, many promising athletes did not have the opportunity to train under top level coaches all year round, and that in some cases athletes had to travel to Sydney or interstate to reach their sporting potential.

The University of Wollongong's Human Movement & Sports Science Advisory Committee formed a 'Steering Committee' comprised of representatives from government, education, business and community sport from the Illawarra region to investigate the opportunities to support and develop young athletes in the area.   As a result The Illawarra Institute of Sport (I.I.S) was launched in 1985, becoming Australia’s first regional Institute of Sport.

On the 3rd of December 1985 the role and activities of the I.I.S was offically launched by Dr. John Bloomfield (Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister on Sport) and Dr. John Cheffers (Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Sport).

The inaugural squad of seventy-five athletes from four sports programs including  Gymnasitics, Hockey, Basketball and Netball, under the direction of the Coaching Coordinators commenced training & competing in January 1986.

The Foundation Interim Board of Management (1985-87)

The Interim Board of Management was appointed by the University of Wollongong Liaison Committee. The principal activities of the Board were to:

i. Establish high performance sports programs

ii. Secure funding to complement programs

iii. Employ coaching and administration staff

iv. Recruit athletes to undertake programs in gymnastics, hockey, basketball and netball.

The foundation Interim Board included Tom Penrose (Chairman), Ian Brown, Arther Campbell, Steve Craig, Owen Curtis, Henry Daigle, Michael Gross, Bob Harrison, Jeff Humphreys, Norm McKnight, Pat Petty, Ian Richardson, Ted Tobin, Frank White and George Anderson (Administrative Director)

Inaugural Sports Program Coaches

Hockey: Garry Wilsmore (coaching coordinator) & Sue Bessell (coaching assistant)

Netball: Margaret Corbett (coaching coordinator) & Vicki Kerr (coaching assistant)

Basketball: Warrick Cann (coaching coordinator) & Gordon McLeod/Wendy Laidlaw (coaching assistants)

Gymnastics: Hans Grooters (coaching coordinator) & Fay Woods (coaching assistant)


The Illawarra Academy of Sport has four Life Members. These Life Members have been chosen and identified as significant contributors to the success and development of the IAS. Ted Tobin OAM (deceased), Brian Weir PSM, John O'Dwyer OAM and Margaret Corbett OAM are the four Life Members that have inspired countless athletes, coaches and staff members of the IAS  to achieve sporting excellence.

To view or learn more about the four IAS Life Members please CLICK HERE

Over the past three decades the Illawarra Academy of Sport has supported more than 5000 young aspiring sports citizens in their pusuit of sporting excellence from across twenty sports programs.















Athletes with a Disability:

1998-2004, 2014-2016

Individual Athlete Program:



1988, 1990-1991



Lawn Bowls:

1990-1991, 2008-2016


1997-2006, 2008-2010









Rugby League:

1989-1997, 1999-2007





Rugby Union:















The Illawarra has a rich history in developing and elevating athletes to higher representative honours, with the IAS a significant vehicle in the process.


       Gallery 1                   Gallery 2                   Gallery 3                  Gallery 4


To view the entire IAS Honour Roll please CLICK HERE


Thirty years on and the Illawarra Academy of Sport is now well entrenched in the region's talent development and high performance pathways and has supported more than 5000 aspiring young sporting citizens in their pursuit of sporting excellence.

The Academy has produced 11 Olympians (13 medals), 23 Commonwealth Games Representatives (31 medals), 11 World Champions and 70 Senior National Representatives.

The Academy's alumni include Brett & Shane Lee, Sally Fitzgibbons, Luke Wilkshire, Kieran Govers, Siobhan Paton, Rochelle Gilmore. Joshua Morris and more recently David & Emma McKeon, Caleb Ewan, Blake Govers, Grace Stewart, Tristan White, David Smith and Ryan Gregson.

The Academy, with the support of Southern Phone, hosted a 30th Anniversary Cocktail Function on Friday 3rd July 2015 to acknowledge and pay tribute to the many volunteers, directors, sponsors, partners, staff, athletes and community stakeholders who passionately contributed to the Academy's success over the past three decades.

Under the stars on 'the deck' of the prestigious Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, many familiar faces braved the chilly conditions to reconnect and share stories of past involvement.

Amongst the distinguished guests was the Member for Kiama and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier - Illawarra & South Coast, Mr Gareth Ward MP, the Member for Keira, Mr Ryan Park MP, Southern Phone Managing Director, Mr Mark Warren, Wollongong City Lord Mayor, Cr. Gordon Bradbery OAM and Wingecarribee Shire Mayor, Cr. Duncan Gair, IAS Life Members Mr John O'Dwyer OAM and Mr Brian Weir PSM, as well as renowned coaches Ms Margaret Corbett OAM, Mr Ron McKeon and inaugural cricket coach Mr Bruce Jones.

Joining these guests were a number of notable graduates including Shaun Timmins, David & Emma McKeon, Brett Stibners, Leif Selby, Flynn Ogilvie, Jarrod Poort, Madeline Heiner, Jackson Law, David Riolo and Zoe Lynum (nee Uphill).


Mr. Gareth Ward MP, Member for Kiama and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier - Illawarra and South Coast


Mr. Brian Weir PSM, Mayor of Shellharbor, Cr. Marianne Saliba's Representative on the IAS Board




The news of the Illawarra Academy of Sport's 30th Anniversary has spread far and wide including all the way to the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Tony Abbott MP. As the oldest and industry leading Regional Academy of Sport in Australia, the Prime Minister put pen to paper to send a special message.

The Hon. Tony Abbott MP (Prime Minister of Australia 2013-15)


Dr. John Bloomfield


Ms Emma McKeon (IAS 2009-10) - Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist - Swimming


Mr Jarrod Poort (IAS 2009-10) - 2012 Olympic Games Representative - Swimming


Mr David McKeon (IAS 2010) - 2012 Olympic Games Representative - Swimming


Mr Shaun Timmins (IAS 1992-93) - Australian Kangaroos Representative - Rugby League


Ms Madeline Heiner (IAS 2004) - 2014 Commonwealth Games Representative - Athletics


Mr Brett Stibners (IAS 1995-96) - 2008 Paralympic Games Representative - Basketball


Mr Flynn Ogilvie (IAS 2008-09) - Australian Kookaburras Representative - Hockey

This website contains a compilation of profiles of athletes, coaches and administrators that have been involved in the Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) during its 30 years of operation. The articles were written by Journalism students of the University of Wollongong by request of the IAS. What follows is a substantial collection of detailed and high quality articles that document significant members of the IAS, both current and historical. This project is yet another example of the strong community involvement of both the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Academy of Sport.



 Sally Fitzgibbons (2005-07)            Brett Lee (1990-92)                  Shaun Timmins (1992-93)

  • In the Beginning
  • Life Members
  • Sports Programs
  • IAS Honour Roll
  • Celebrating 30 Years (1985-2015)
  • 30 Year History Walk
  • Historical Interviews