Multi-talented athlete, MVP and now a Major Māori Award winner

Rugby, touch and rugby sevens star Isla Norman-Bell has been recognised for another fantastic year in sport, taking out the 2020 Major Māori Blues Award.

It's been a testing year for the world of sport, with uncertainty around Covid-19 putting a stop to events and making training challenging. But that hasn’t stopped Isla Norman-Bell, who has continued to excel in three different sports — touch, rugby and rugby sevens — all while studying the Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Education.

Isla took out the Major Māori Award at the 2020 University of Auckland Blues Awards, recognising her outstanding achievements in sport and academia. It’s not her first Blues Award, but she says this one is particularly special.

Winning the Major Māori Award at the University of Auckland Blues Awards is an extremely special achievement for me, and something that I feel very grateful and honoured to receive.

Isla Norman-Bell

A well-rounded athlete, Isla regularly competes at a national and international level in touch, rugby and rugby sevens. Before the first lockdown put a halt to most sporting events, Isla managed to squeeze in a couple of major achievements, and even travelled to Australia to represent New Zealand in the 2020 Trans-Tasman touch rugby test series.

Isla’s skills haven’t gone unnoticed. She was named Most Valuable Player at the New Zealand Rugby Red Bull Ignite7 Tournament and selected to join the New Zealand Black Ferns Sevens development squad. In March, Isla also competed against teams from Japan, France and Australia.

“Although this year has been challenging, I have also had many wonderful experiences. I was lucky enough to play with and against some of the best players in the world,” Isla says.

The Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Education is designed for students who are passionate about sport, health and wellbeing. The programme has an emphasis on skills and expertise in sport coaching, physical activity, health promotion and education.

More top achievers from the Faculty of Education and Social Work

Three other outstanding Education and Social Work students took out sports awards at the 2020 Blues Awards.

Keegan Pitcher – Bachelor of Physical Education*

Keegan competed at the 2019 Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, placing 13th in the 1500m.

Jamie Hume – Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary)

Jamie played netball for the Northern Mystics in 2019, and has made the Northern Stars team for the 2020 season, as well as the Silver Ferns Development Squad.

Michaela Sokolich-Beatson – Bachelor of Physical Education*

Photo: Michael Bradley Photography.

Michaela was a member of the 2019/2020 Silver Ferns that played in the Trans-Tasman Constellation Cup. She was also a member of the 2019 Northern Mystics team in the ANZ Netball Premiership.

*The faculty introduced the Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Education in 2017 after the Bachelor of Physical Education programme was suspended. To become a teacher, you can add one year to your degree with a Graduate Diploma in Teaching.