It's been a significant month for Bradie Smith who has been acknowledged on a national level for his commitment to study while he strives for a career as a professional rugby league player.
At the end of September he was awarded the NYC Trade Player of the Year at the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) gala awards night in Sydney where he mixed with some of the most high profile and talented players in the game.
"It's a good experience to get acknowledged and to get to go to the events and be amongst players who are winning the awards and NRL players alone," Smith said.
"It was great to be in the crowd with them and to be acknowledged for studying and playing footy at the same time."
Aside from his NRL aspirations, Smith owns and operates his own building company, Bradie Smith Carpentry, where he works five days a week in addition to attending TAFE.
Smith Studied a Certificate III in Carpentry whilst working and is currently doing a Clerk of Works, which is a builder's course he attends two nights a week.
Throughout the last few years, he's travelled hours from Jerry Plains to Newcastle each day to attend TAFE to complete his apprenticeship.
The Newcastle Knights was also acknowledged by the RLPA for the Club's commitment to education and supporting players while they train and learn, something Smith says has been an exceptional help to him along the way.
"The Club is right on its toes with helping me with study," he said.
"Phil [Matthews- Manager of Player and Coach Development for Juniors] and the fellas in welfare really look after you and make sure you're on top of your study, keeping on top of your assignments and making sure TAFE is going easily and smoothly for you.
"They are always on board with the NRL incentives and bonuses and keeping up to date with everything.
"I have to thank the Knights and people like Phil and Warren [Smiles- Football Manager] here who have been really helpful with all the evenings and TAFE work and study.
"I'd also like to thank my parents. Mum is really good and keeps me on the ball with the study and the footy.
"All the coaching staff are really helpful, they keep you on the right track with footy but they've also got in mind that you need to do other things like study."
This article first appeared on NewcastleKnights.com.au