July 11, 2018
This blog features Dominique Condo a researcher and lecturer from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.
Dominique specialises in Sports Nutrition and oversees the nutrition program at Deakin’s partner sporting organisations Geelong Cats Football Club and the WNBL Deakin Melbourne Boomers.
My love for sport started from a young age when I would spend most weekends with my brothers and cousins going to watch Port Power (yes, I am from Adelaide and I am a long-time supporter…no judgement..), watching WWF (that is wrestling for those of you who don’t know) and playing outdoor cricket or ‘Marks up’ outside. Little did I know I would end up working with some of these amazing athletes!
During school I did not consider a career in the world of sport. Up until my final year at high school I was certain I wanted to be a lawyer. I was on the debating team (and doing very well), completed my work experience at law firms and did the subjects needed to ensure entry into law at university. However, this long term plan quickly changed! It was just before the first day of year 12 and the course coordinator let me know that there was a clash with the timetable and I had to choose a different subject. When I asked her what the options were she said “at this stage, it is really just nutrition…”. I had never studied nutrition before and so I had no idea what to expect. However, that decision ended up changing my life. From the first week of class I loved every bit of it and from that point on law no longer seemed so interesting. I knew I wanted to study nutrition, but what I didn’t know was the amazing opportunities it would lead to.
After year 12 I went on to study Biomedical Science in Adelaide to get the appropriate pre-requisites to study my masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. During the masters we spent a lot of time learning about clinical dietetics, as expected. I was certain I would be a clinical dietitian and knew it would be in the area of paediatrics after completing my placement at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Towards the end of the course we had a lecture on sports nutrition and once again, my plan was challenged. I found myself extremely intrigued with the idea of being a sports dietitian and knew it would be something I needed to find out more about.
After we graduated I started working as a clinical dietitian: part time at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) and part time in an adult hospital. I also started private consulting on weekends with an aim to focus on sports nutrition. I volunteered everywhere I could with sports dietitians in Adelaide and I had a fantastic mentor in the area who provided some excellent opportunities for me. Soon after I completed the sports nutrition course at the AIS to become an accredited sports dietitian and found a consulting role with the SANFL North Adelaide Football club (NAFC).
At this time I was loving my sports nutrition work, even though it was quite minor, and I found myself becoming frustrated with my clinical role. I loved the paediatric work but was continually asking myself “what next?” I felt as though I needed to be challenged and I never thought I would say that I missed research…(What!). One day as part of a professional development session at the WCH, we went to a seminar session and I heard from an amazing professor who was a dietitian, researching all about infant and maternal diets and the impact on different health outcomes. I remember thinking “I want to be like her one day”. So I made a time to meet her and within a few months I was officially a student again, about to start my PhD and embark on the journey of a lifetime.
My PhD was in the area of maternal iodine intake and infant outcomes. The skills I learnt during this experience, both professional and personal were invaluable. I met so many amazing people and the career opportunities that arose during my PhD were countless. During this stage I continued to consult privately and to NAFC, building my profile as a sports dietitian.
Once finished my PhD, a short term position came up at Deakin as a Lecturer in Nutritional Science. My husband had just got a job in Melbourne so I thought, why not take a risk and see where it can go. As soon as I started, I voiced my passion and interest in the area of sports nutrition. At this stage, there were no other sports dietitians at Deakin and so it allowed me to start to build the space. This started with a consulting role with Geelong Cats as part of Deakin’s partnership and grew to partnership roles with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers, Sports Dietitians Australia and Hawthorn Football Club. Fast forward 3 years and I can happily say I am working full time in sports nutrition, lecturing and researching in the space. I feel extremely lucky to work with some amazing athletes and never thought I would one day be helping the athletes I use to watch every weekend perform at their best.
So my mantra and advice- dream big, take risks and think outside the square. Who knows where the journey will take you!
Dr Dominique Condo,
Lecturer in Sports Nutrition,
School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences