Jess Vinnicombe is a sportsperson to watch. This year she was the recipient of the St Hilda’s College Elite Sports Scholarship, awarded for her outstanding rowing ability. Jess left her hometown in Perth to join St Hilda’s College and study a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne.

In March this year, Jess was scheduled to attend Sydney’s International Rowing Regatta which included the Australian Open Rowing Championship, and a chance to compete in the Interstate Regatta to be held later that month. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

Jess is a committed athlete and motivated by the thrill of a challenge. Success is not her primary goal, rather the love for the sport as her key inspiration. This desire drives her to fulfill her rigorous training schedule day in, day out. Waking at 4:40 am on training days, Jess hurries down her breakfast before cycling to the Rowing Club situated on the bank of the Yarra River. An intensive two-hour training session follows, occasionally backed up by a gym session on the erg machine. The routine concludes with Jess and her fellow rowers, relaxing over coffee amidst the early morning city bustle.

Jess is a determined, bright student keen to achieve at University, however identified the importance of a balanced lifestyle. After initially enrolling in four Science subjects, Jess altered her selection replacing an intensive Science unit with ‘Learning through Sport and Outdoor Education’. When questioned about what drew her to this particular breadth unit from the hundreds on offer, Jess was drawn to the athletic aspect of the subject, where students train for a 15 km fun run throughout the semester and complete as a Melbourne University team. Jess realised this was an excellent opportunity to add cross-training to her diverse range of sporting activities. 

Leaving Perth, family and friends was not easy, however Jess is fortunate to have an older sibling already at St Hilda’s, who provided useful insights on what to expect prior to leaving home. Her first impressions of St Hilda’s said so much about what is at the very heart of the College; a warm, caring place, with a true sense of community. Jess highlighted the emphasis on involvement and inclusiveness among year groups, along with the comforting feeling that she felt at home after barely three weeks in Melbourne. The hard work of the O-week team has clearly paid off, as Jess fondly remembers the fun water fight and egg-throwing events organised as ice breakers for the new students, as a highlight of her first week. 

We wish Jess the very best for her future on and off the water. The St Hilda’s community are backing her 100% and we can’t wait for an update on her achievements throughout the year.

Check out the College sports video below.