HAV­ING IT ALL, LOS­ING IT, FIND­ING IT

SCOTT DRAPER’S STORY HAS HAD IT ALL – A RISE AND FALL WOR­THY OF HOL­LY­WOOD SCREENS, AND NOW A FAM­ILY LIFE HE VAL­UES MUCH MORE DEARLY

Central and North Burnett Times - - READ - WORDS: DENISE RAWARD

There was a time when Hol­ly­wood toyed with telling the story of Scott Draper, the Aussie sports­man whose ar­che­typal hero’s jour­ney had it all. The pitch would have gone some­thing like this: a kid with steely self-dis­ci­pline grabs the sport­ing world’s at­ten­tion as a ju­nior Wim­ble­don winner, a nat­u­ral ear­marked for great things on the world ten­nis tour. Only he’s crip­pled by a se­cret de­bil­i­tat­ing men­tal health con­di­tion driven by his own quest for per­fec­tion which he later cures him­self through sheer will. He goes on to make his mark on the elite ten­nis cir­cuit as the health of his young wife fal­ters. When he’s just 25, she loses her bat­tle for life, plung­ing him into a deep de­pres­sion that stran­gles his ca­reer. He finds so­lace in an­other sport, golf, and uses that to help him through his grief. On one made-for-Hol­ly­wood day, he plays 18 holes in his first pro golf tour­na­ment in the morn­ing be­fore hot-foot­ing it to a packed in­ter­na­tional arena where he wins a grand slam ten­nis ti­tle (the 2005 Australian Open mixed dou­bles with Sam Sto­sur) in the af­ter­noon. But wait, that’s just in­ter­mis­sion. In­jury forces him to re­tire from ten­nis but he turns a hand to coach­ing a young gun by the name of Lley­ton He­witt. Af­ter the 2007 Australian Ten­nis Open, he turns down He­witt’s of­fer of a per­ma­nent coach­ing role be­cause golf is still calling his name. Just weeks later, he wins his first pro­fes­sional golf ti­tle, with pun­dits spec­u­lat­ing he has what it takes to cut it on the US tour. You can al­most pic­ture the clos­ing shot: hero clutch­ing a tro­phy with in­vin­ci­ble set of jaw and wet eyes, gallery cheer­ing, be­fore the mu­sic winds up for the cred­its. But the movie never did quite make it to pro­duc­tion. Draper isn’t too fussed ei­ther way. He’s not your Hol­ly­wood type of bloke and, be­sides, he’s gone on to score other points. In fact, it’s all about the se­quel these days, more made for Net­flix per­haps, but still a top­i­cal tale for our times: a ca­reer ath­lete who’s known noth­ing else sets his un­wa­ver­ing sights on rein­vent­ing him­self for the real world. “It’s a very dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion,” Draper says dur­ing the 35-minute cab ride he’s sched­uled for our chat, clearly still mak­ing use of the Type A per­son­al­ity tics that drove his teenage strug­gle with ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der yet ar­guably served him well in his sport­ing careers. “I don’t like to be as­so­ci­ated as a past ath­lete these days. You’ve got to move be­yond and past that. It comes down to know­ing who you are, not as an ath­lete, but who you re­ally are as a per­son. You have to do that work.” These days Scott Draper, at 44, af­ter two sport­ing careers, is a con­sul­tant in lead­er­ship and per­for­mance en­hance­ment for KPMG, one of the big four global pro­fes­sional ser­vices out­fits no less. While he may be a nat­u­ral fit for it, it’s not some­thing he just dropped into with his recog­nis­able name. Any­one who un­der­stands the lean and mean cor­po­rate sec­tor of the new mil­len­nia will know busi­ness is hardly so char­i­ta­ble these days. Like much of Draper’s life to date, it was a long and hard path to get to where he is now. Af­ter what may have been the clos­ing scene of the for­got­ten screen­play – win­ning the New South Wales PGA cham­pi­onship in 2007 – what fol­lowed was not your Hol­ly­wood end­ing. Draper fin­ished his promising pro-golf­ing ca­reer the next year plagued by on­go­ing back in­juries. At the time he was part of the Fox Sports com­men­tary team for the Australian and US Open Ten­nis but knew that wasn’t a ca­reer path­way he wanted to pur­sue. He’d been of­fered coach­ing gigs on the pro ten­nis tour but, by this time, had started a fam­ily with his sec­ond wife, Jes­sica, and didn’t want to live the itin­er­ant life­style. He was thrown a short-term chal­lenge from an old mate who of­fered him a three­month gig in high per­for­mance coach­ing at the Na­tional Acad­emy of Ten­nis in Bris­bane. “I ab­so­lutely loved what I was do­ing there,” Draper says. “I loved the coach­ing, study­ing be­hav­iour, help­ing oth­ers to be their best.” It led to a na­tional coach­ing po­si­tion, then the job of head coach of Ten­nis Aus­tralia’s na­tional acad­e­mies based in Mel­bourne and there he was, back in the thick of ten­nis again. “This time I was in the de­vel­op­ment side of ten­nis,” he says. “I knew player man­age­ment and tac­tics, but I had no ex­pe­ri­ence in the busi­ness side of sport. “I had to man­age peo­ple and put in place the devel­op­men­tal build­ing blocks for the next 10 years and be­yond. It taught me a lot.” Dur­ing his fi­nal year with Ten­nis Aus­tralia in 2014, he felt he was armed with a whole new skill set but was still not en­tirely clear on how it could be ap­plied to the real world out­side of sport. “When a lot of elite ath­letes fin­ish their careers, they of­ten don’t have an ed­u­ca­tion to fall back on,” Draper says. “I felt like I had some skills that could trans­fer from sport to busi­ness but it’s like your CV doesn’t let you make that leap in terms of your pay and your se­nior­ity.” For a man who’d faced a few chal­lenges in his time, this one was rel­a­tively easy. He en­rolled in the in­au­gu­ral in­take of a Lead­er­ship, In­no­va­tion and Strat­egy pro­gram through the Mel­bourne Busi­ness School. By Draper’s own ad­mis­sion, he was no scholar dur­ing his school years, fo­cused as he was on his sport. When he handed over the reins at Ten­nis Aus­tralia, he was of­fered some con­sult­ing and fa­cil­i­ta­tion work in the busi­ness sec­tor but with the fo­cus of an elite ath­lete, Draper went af­ter more. He hit the books again, this time tak­ing on a Master of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion through the Univer­sity of Can­berra, an im­mer­sive pro­gram with the fo­cus on real world learn­ing. He worked on projects with some big play­ers: Na­tional Aus­tralia Bank, Price Water­house Coop­ers and KPMG. “They were our clients and we made rec­om­men­da­tions to them, just as if we were their con­sul­tants,” he says. “It re­ally al­lowed me to build my net­work in that world, which was fan­tas­tic.” He grad­u­ated the co-dux of his in­take, a feat he per­haps sur­pris­ingly rates as his great­est achieve­ment. His bridge to the busi­ness sec­tor came in the form of KPMG’s Per­for­mance Clinic, a pro­gram de­signed for se­nior busi­ness lead­ers tak­ing in all the ar­eas Draper was more than

fa­mil­iar with: psy­chol­ogy, phys­i­ol­ogy, stress man­age­ment, high per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­ity en­hance­ment. It led to a per­ma­nent gig with KPMG in Syd­ney be­fore he was trans­ferred back to his old home­town of Bris­bane. These days, Draper is all about busi­ness. He trots out buzz­words like he used to talk sport in his other life. “Lead­er­ship ca­pac­ity is all about be­ing re­silient, adap­tive and build­ing trust,” he says. “These days in the con­tem­po­rary mar­ket, we’re in an era of great change and dis­rup­tion. We talk about VUCA, a US mil­i­tary term – volatile, un­cer­tain, com­plex and am­bigu­ous. “It’s be­com­ing more and more nor­mal. You have to have the adapt­abil­ity to nav­i­gate it.” For a man who’s over­come his fair share of VUCA in his day, Draper ap­plies the zeal and in­ten­sity he had for his sport to his new play­ing field. It’s a post-sport suc­cess story in a land­scape where the tales are not al­ways so rosy. “I’ve done a bit of talk­ing to peo­ple in this space,” he says. “When you’re an ath­lete, so much of your iden­tity is wrapped up in be­ing an ath­lete. “When you stop be­ing an ath­lete, you need to find who you are at the core, what’s im­por­tant to you, how you’re go­ing to get en­joy­ment and ful­fil­ment out­side of sport. “The tran­si­tion is dif­fi­cult. You go from be­ing one of the best to be­ing an also ran, then back to be­ing a novice start­ing all over again at some­thing else. “On a per­sonal level, ath­letes have to make an iden­tity shift and let go of some­thing that’s been their life, some­times since they’ve been from three to five years of age.” Draper ad­mits he was self-ab­sorbed for 15 to 20 years when he was play­ing elite sport – ath­letes have to be self­ish, he says. Now he’s happy to be putting ev­ery­one else first. “I’m a father (he now has three chil­dren, Jay­den, 11, Jaimee, 10, and Jett, 8), hus­band, brother, son,” he says. “What I know about my­self is that I like help­ing peo­ple. It’s all about oth­ers now, my fam­ily and my clients and cus­tomers. It’s been a huge shift for me.” His story never did make it to Hol­ly­wood but a ver­sion of it at­tracted a wide­spread re­sponse when Draper ap­peared on the ABC’s Australian Story in 2005. He spoke about his grief af­ter the death of his first wife Kel­lie from cys­tic fi­bro­sis in 1999 when he was ranked 42 on the World Ten­nis Tour, hav­ing recorded the fastest rise to the top 100 the tour had then seen. But it was his can­did dis­cus­sion about his self-treated OCD, a con­di­tion he’d never heard of, that peo­ple still con­tact him about to this day. “Over the years I’ve prob­a­bly helped maybe 10 to 15 peo­ple get over their OCD – kids, teenagers, adults,” he says. “A lot of peo­ple con­tacted me af­ter that pro­gram and I did what I could to help.” More re­cently, there’s been an­other wave af­ter he ap­peared on SBS’s In­sight panel dis­cus­sion pro­gram on the dis­or­der. It was the first time he’d ever been among other OCD sufferers and he re­vealed he still man­ages his con­di­tion, the essence of which, he says, will never re­ally leave him. “I firmly be­lieve that one way to help man­age OCD be­hav­iour is through ef­fec­tively demon­strat­ing greater self-com­pas­sion,” he says. “If I were to treat peo­ple like I’ve treated my­self at times, I wouldn’t be very pop­u­lar.” To this day, pun­dits still de­scribe Draper’s ten­nis grand slam and golf PGA dou­ble as one of the great Australian sport­ing feats al­though that’s not how he’d like to be re­mem­bered. “I’d hope I could be thought of as some­one who was a role model, val­ues driven, gen­er­ous, hum­ble, a fam­ily man,” he says. “One day when I die, I’d like peo­ple to say Scotty made a dif­fer­ence to my life. He did what he could for other peo­ple.”

YOU GO FROM BE­ING ONE OF THE BEST TO BE­ING AN ALSO RAN, THEN BACK TO BE­ING A NOVICE START­ING ALL OVER AGAIN AT SOME­THING ELSE.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED/PETER WAL­LIS

ABOVE: Todd Wood­bridge (left) and Scott Draper at train­ing be­fore the Australian Hard­court Cham­pi­onship in Ade­laide in 1995.RIGHT: Scott Draper with the Australian Open tro­phies at South­bank.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.