Smith and Gillespie-Jones are top of the class

The 2019 Education and Training Excellence Award, presented by the Victoria University Online MBA, goes to Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith, and North Melbourne’s Kate Gillespie-Jones.

Hawthorn midfielder Isaac Smith is known for his hard work on the field, but he is just as diligent off it.

Studying at Melbourne’s Swinburne University, Smith recently completed his Masters of Business Administration.

The triple premiership player has used his studies to help grow his passions outside of the game, which has led to increased opportunities away from the field.

Smith, alongside teammate James Frawley, is the co-owner of JAMU Dining in Richmond and is a regular guest on RSN 927 sport radio.

Hawthorn team manager Josh McCahon said Smith consistently demonstrates commitment to his study and hobbies, which has helped see him forge a successful career both on and off-the-field.

“(Isaac) has been an outstanding role model in working hard on his education while still playing at the highest level,” McCahon told

“He has demonstrated the ability to play AFL football and create building blocks for a successful transition post football.”

Like Smith, North Melbourne’s Kate Gillespie-Jones has spent time balancing her football commitments with finishing her PhD at Monash University.

Gillespie-Jones spent four years dividing her time between AFLW, VFLW, work and studying while researching a new drug treatment for traumatic brain injuries.

Gillespie-Jones’ PhD study followed an intensive undergraduate and honour’s degree program.

North Melbourne AFLW Football Operations Manager Matt Bolitho said Gillespie-Jones’ achievements were a credit to her professionalism.

“Despite having to travel a large distance between her commitments, Kate is never late for a session and is one of the last to leave,” he told

“To complete a PhD is enough of an achievement, but to do so whilst also balancing her football career is almost beyond belief.”