Now studying teaching in Miami, Rusty Theron opens up on some of the teachers and mentors who helped guide him in his own life and career.

How did you end up studying teaching in Miami?

It was a difficult decision. You wonder whether you’re making the worst decision of your life. For me the deciding factor was watching older players holding on for that extra paycheck. That was not really something I wanted to do. Being the guy who doesn’t play at the level he used to; I didn’t want to go out like that. It’s not fair on the franchise and CSA.

I paid for my own studies initially and then Davey Jacobs mentioned that I could apply for a SACA bursary. I wondered whether SACA would help someone studying overseas where it costs almost R200 000, but they came back with a significant contribution which was amazing. And they check in regularly to see how things are going.

SACA’s objective through the Player Plus initiative has always been to educate players and enrich them off the field. As someone who is starting life a little bit later than everyone else, I wanted to get a good degree from a good school so that when I come back to the working world, it would give me more of a step up.

Teaching allows you to go all over the world. It’s a very universal thing. There’ll always be a need for teachers. You also get longer holidays!

Who have been some of the teachers and influencers in your life?

  1. Gary Kirsten

Gary Kirsten gave me confidence in myself.

My greatest cricketing moment was winning against Australia. But I had a shocker against them in Cape Town, going for 42 runs in three overs. I was gutted and I thought it was going to be the end of my career. But Gary backed me for the game at the Wanderers, and Wayne Parnell and I hit 62 off 68 balls. I hit a six off the last ball to win the game. I don’t think it gets better than that, even if you’re a bowler.

I don’t think I’ve ever been filled with more emotion than that. I burst into tears involuntarily, not even realising how I’d come back from what I thought was the end of my career to being Man of the Match the following week.

  1. Davy Jacobs

The person I respect the most is Davy Jacobs, the ex-Warriors captain. He’s just got a very good outlook on life. He’s well directed and has a positive spin, on and off the field. Paddy Upton and Davey Jacobs are two people who have great perspective and that’s everything in life. The way people look at a situation determines where they go from it.

  1. Paddy Upton

Paddy Upton was a pleasure to work with. He was a mediator between Gary and the players, and I spent a lot of time talking to him. He’s quite a philosophical and deep kind of person. His philosophy comes down to: “What is the worst that can happen?”

Eventually I just got a bit of perspective. We seem to make a big deal of things that don’t mean that much in the bigger scheme of things. Even if you lose your job, you’re still a healthy individual.

  1. Russell Domingo

The people I appreciated most were people who were honest with me, encouraging me to take some time to learn about myself. These were the people who could genuinely guide you the most. Russell Domingo was a big part of that, he said: “Look your chance will come.” He always kept talking to me.

When I played my first pro game for the Warriors, Russell was the coach. I think I had a little cry to myself and gave him a hug. I thought: if all I ever do is play this one game, at least I could say I was a pro sportsman. I didn’t take any wickets against the Knights, so it wasn’t the ideal start!

  1. Brett Lee

I’d never really had cricketing heroes, but Brett Lee became one of them. Going to the IPL allowed me to meet up with some amazing people. Playing with Dale and some of the greats of the game. That’s the one thing about the IPL that’s been unparalleled. I first thought I could play pro cricket after I’d played a bit of amateur cricket. But guys like Brett Lee are on another level.

At the end of the day if you surround yourself with a few good people, then you’re better off than having 100 so-called “Friends”. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from life. I pay a lot more attention to people, and I like to observe.


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