My Beach

Our multi-award winner, Mike Shaw (Fremantle SLSC) is hard to miss, not just because of his height, but because he is always one of the first on the beach helping out his local club. Whether it’s fulfilling club roles, training Bronzies, or being neck-deep in water as the team ‘turning can’, he always finds a way to improve his surroundings.

Over the past 11 year’s, Mike’s contributions to Surf Life Saving at a club, state and national level have been extraordinary, so it was no surprise when he was awarded both the AGL Volunteer and Trainer of the Year awards at our 2019 Surf Life Saving WA Awards of Excellence.

To get to know Mike a bit better, we asked him a few questions about his time at surf, where he shed light on his past and enlightened us on how to become the best trainer you can be. Read about his answers below.

When and where did your surf lifesaving journey begin? It all started, like many in the fraternity, as a nipper parent when my daughter Maddie joined in 2008. My first role in the U11’s, given certain physical attributes, was to stand neck-deep in the water and be the ‘turning can’ for the swim.

I then continued to obtain my SRC to help out with water safety, which led to my position of co-water safety coordinator. I achieved my Bronze in 2011, and Patrol Captain in 2013; the same year I became Club President

How tall are you? 204cm

What does Surf Life Saving mean to you and how has it shaped who you are today? I think, like many people my age, you reach a point where you feel an urge to ‘give back’ to your community and volunteer. Sure, I had manned the barbeque at my son’s Auskick, but that’s not the same. I felt a need to make a positive contribution to our community. Surf Life Saving, and more recently training, fitted the bill perfectly.

Years ago, my wife asked me, “What are you going to do when you retire – you’ve got nothing in your life except work! Now it’s “you‘ve got nothing in your life except surf club!”

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a trainer? Be prepared to devote time, it doesn’t happen overnight. Spend time, first working as a helper trainer improving your technical skills, before stepping in front of the class. And practice, practice, practice.

How does it feel to win not one, but two awards, at this year’s Awards of Excellence? I have submitted nominations for awards for the last few years and have seen the amazing work that the eventual winners have done. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to match it with them, but I kept at it. So, I was absolutely blown away to win the first award, let alone two!

What’s your favourite volunteer memory? A few years ago, I led the charge in running an important carnival at my club –  which included picking up trailers, setting up arenas, food drops to officials, garbage runs, packing up, to name a few things. The following week, my club received some really positive feedback from state centre, in particular about “the big guy” … magic!

What is the most rewarding part of being a trainer? Without a doubt, it’s seeing the faces of our members when they pass their Bronze assessments! Competence creates confidence!

Did you grow up with the beach? If so, where was your home beach? The beach played a big part in our family life growing up in Sydney. My dad was a lifesaver since before I was born and we spent lots of time at the beach, in particular, Bondi, Clovelly, Maroubra and Brighton-le-Sands in Botany Bay – all closest to where we lived.

Now for the serious stuff.

What was the first sport you ever played? I signed myself up to play soccer at my local club as a six-year-old, before telling my parents. Unfortunately, I had to have my appendix out shortly thereafter and found myself as a goalkeeper for the next two years.

Dogs or cats? Arff!

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I came third in the NSW State 75 yard sprint for U7’s in 1965. And, I’m actually the same height as John Summers – I just tend to stand closer to the camera lens…

What is your favourite WA beach? It’s hard to beat Leighton Beach, Fremantle but, if pressed, I’d have to say Ocean Beach, Denmark.

If you could time travel, when would you go? Without a doubt, back to the days of the golden era of the Romans.

What is your spirit animal and why? Would it be improper to say giraffe