Bradie Smith has achieved more than most his age.
At 20-years-old he’s completed a trade while working full-time, has begun studying a Clerk of Works course as well as launching his own small business.
All impressive achievements alone, Smith is also a member of the Newcastle Knights' Under 20s squad and played 23 games with the side in the 2015 season establishing himself as one of the team’s most consistent and talented forwards.
Smith’s dedication and success off the football field was acknowledged at the Rugby League Players Association Awards gala evening on Tuesday with the promising young talent presented the NYC Trade Player of the Year Award.
Phil Matthews, manager of player and coach development with the Newcastle Knights juniors, describes Smith’s motivation and drive as particularly unique.
Smith began his study in 2012 and completed the trade certificate over three years attending class one day a week while working the rest of the week with a local builder in Singleton.
All the while, the Stanthorpe Gremlin junior dedicated himself to progressing through the Knights' junior development system.
“It’s great recognition of what Bradie has done in the last three years,” Matthews said.
“He’s gained his Certificate III in Carpentry and has been really proactive in organising his future off the field.
“He is studying to do a Clerk of Works which is a higher level of building which allows you do have greater skills in the building area and to do the business side of running your own business.
“In the last few years he’s progressed through TAFE, his apprenticeship, and has now set up his own business in Newcastle.
“That’s pretty impressive.”
It’s clear much of Smith's personal success boils down to his driven personality.
“He’s very goal focused, determined and is not afraid to take risks when he can see gains and rewards,” he added.
“He’s very mature for his age and is resilient, resourceful and patient.
“He builds little victories and they have built to significant victories."
While Smith is an ambitious and motivated young man, his personal accomplishments have been assisted by the support of the Club and dedicated education and welfare department.
The Club has also forged a number of valuable partnerships in the community, including Hunter TAFE that has made the journey of growth easier for players.
An example of this is the fact the NYC Knights training facility is at Hunter TAFE’s Tighes Hill campus with many of the player’s studying in in classroom’s just a stone’s throw away from the training field.
“Being able to train and go and get your education at the one venue is an enormous help to all of them,” he added.
“Plus we are able to speak one-on-one with lecturers when players are injured, tired or need time off because they need to play in Townville or Melbourne, and all of things are really helpful."
The Newcastle Knights as a Club is increasingly committed to educating and developing their players in the hope of creating more capable and resilient individuals.
Each of the 35 NYC players at the Club are case-managed by a member of the Club’s welfare and education staff with a consistent focus on getting the most out of individuals both on and off the field.
“Every player has a different improvement plan, has different motivations and different obstacles whether it be family, career or personality,” he explained.
“My job at the Knights first of all is to provide every player with as much opportunity to fulfil their goals as footballers.
“That’s the reason why they are here.
“To do that, it’s my strong belief you can only do that if you’re happy off the field.
“People who are happy off the field are usually secure because they have other skills, their family and life is good.
“Fundamentally we try to give them skills and tools that enable them to grow up into mature young athletes, but also really good people or citizens and make a contribution to society.
“Because of the nature of elite sport, there will always be people that don’t make it to the top of the tree, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a good person.
“It’s about finding what they are good at and giving them enough skills to help them.”