Academy produces world-class surfers

Therese ColmanAugusta Margaret River Times
Matthew Baldock.
Camera IconMatthew Baldock. Credit: Supplied

Several outstanding surfers have graduated from Margaret River Senior High School’s Surf Academy, with many hitting the waves in the professional circuit or creating a career around the knowledge they gained in surf and human movement.

Matt Baldock, 27, was one of the first to go through the academy under the guidance of John McTaggart, and graduated from MRSHS in 2008.

He now co-operates Talalla, a surf and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. “The surf academy for me wasn’t just about surfing. It had a lot more aspects that really helped me through life,” he said.

“John has a massive passion for life, for surfing and for things he believes in.

“His coaching approach to surfing was second-to-none, always very technical and spot on with contest tactics, body preparation and mental preparation.”

Baldock’s close friend Jethro Hedstrom also went through the academy in its early days, and said the support from Mr McTaggart, academy co-originator Scott Cameron and world champion surfer Dave Macaulay was “world-class”.

“In retrospect it’s pretty amazing we had one of WA’s most successful professional surfers, an experienced physio, and a really supportive teacher with a background in sports and nutrition mentoring us as part of a school initiative,” he said.

“It’s the sort of team a lot of world tour surfers travel with these days, and it definitely gave us the best shot at success.”

Macaulay’s four children Ellie, Laura, Bronte and Jack went through the academy, with Bronte continuing her father’s legacy on the world circuit.

Macaulay, 23, was recently named World Surf League rookie of the year and was the only West Australian to be selected for the 2018 Australian National Squad.

Macaulay and fellow local surfer Jacob Willcox, another graduate of the Surf Academy, are a step closer to qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after they were the first surfers to receive individual athlete scholarships from the WA Institute of Sport.

Willcox said he was grateful to spend all his high school years as part of the academy.

“John and Scott passed on some great life lessons and surf tips from their years of experience, and I always thought it was so cool to be able to go surfing at school,” he said.

“I thank them for everything they have done, not just for me, but all the kids that have been given this opportunity.”

Creed McTaggart, who graduated from the academy in 2010, said his father John and Scott Cameron “always had our best interests at heart”.

“At one point Jacob Willcox, Bronte Macaulay and I represented Australia at the World Junior Titles in Panama,” he said.

“It is unusual to have west Australians in the Oz team, but to have three surfers from our school in the team was incredible.”

Bronte Macaulay.
Camera IconBronte Macaulay. Credit: Richard Hathaway Photography
Jethro Hedstrom.
Camera IconJethro Hedstrom. Credit: Supplied, Surfing WA
Jacob Willcox.
Camera IconJacob Willcox. Credit: Supplied, Surfing WA
Matthew Baldock.
Camera IconMatthew Baldock. Credit: Supplied

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