Shining a light on our MBC students.

Fresh off the back of her victory in the Opens division at the recent QGSSSA Cross Country event, we sat down with Year 12 student Kobi Walker to chat all things running, healthy eating, managing your own business, and US college ambitions

Starting at the beginning, tell us where your sort of sporting journey began.

When I first came to MBC, it was because of the sporting program, and I came as a netballer originally. In Grade 9, after COVID, all our training got cancelled for netball, so I just started running with mum, came and did inter-house cross country, and won.

Then Ben (Norton), who's the coach, was like, “will you come do QG for us?”, and I was like, oh yeah, sure. I did do it in Grade 7, just because Ms Pavish would tell us that we had to do it for fitness, and I was kind of scared of her, so I was like, “yeah, sure, I'll do it”. Did QG that year and hated every second of it, it was really hard. I think I ran the 3km in 15:21 or something like that.

From there I transitioned to doing full running in Grade 10. I started taking it a little bit more seriously, and joined On Track, which is Ben, the coach, he runs the external program. So, I did that with him and kind of from there, just started doing more races, made my first State team and then Nationals in 2022, and kind of fell in love with it from there.

It's always been a goal of mine to win at QG. You know you always want to be the best, but it just means so much more than a medal or a first place, because you get to do it in front of all your friends and all your teachers and people that see you do all the hard work behind the scenes.

Do you remember where you finished in that first QG in Year 9?

Yeah, I got 97th. I scraped in the Top 100, so I'll take that. I think I was one of the last MBC girls in the 13 years team to cross the finish line. I was in the third row, which is the back. I didn't even know if I had to wear a singlet or a shirt. I wore a visor as well, actually, I do remember that. Wore my joggers. But, definitely levelled up from there and got myself some spikes, so that definitely helped.

Do you miss the netball at all? Have you gone back to it since you started focusing on the running?

I think I definitely miss that team aspect, but I think that's why I love school cross country so much, and cross country in general - because even though you're out there by yourself running, you're doing it to get a place for the school or for the team or for the girls. So, I still feel like I'm in a team environment and can have that sort of camaraderie that you would have in a normal like team sport.

You mentioned that you started running with your mum, and you mentioned Ben, your coach, as well. So, who are some of the people that have assisted you on the journey and who've inspired you?

Mum and dad are huge influences. I spend all my time with them, and they were both professional athletes back in the day. So, hard work has always been a thing that mum and dad really put into us, and they are our biggest supporters for both me and my brothers, but alongside Ben as well.

But that hasn't been possible without Moreton Bay. I think I've had skills and talent, but they've really fostered them and allowed them to come out in a certain way, and I would never have found Ben or my love for running had I have not come here. MBC is definitely more than just the academics. I can honestly say that I don't think I'd be where I am today or have the opportunities that I have now and for the future, if it weren't for Moreton Bay.

Ms Pavish has definitely been a huge role model for that. She makes you start what you finish and if you put your name down for something, or even if you don't, she'll get it down there. So, those are the people that have been really had a really big impact on me and my sporting journey thus far.

When you're not running, what do you do?

Oh, I love to cook. I do run two small businesses. I run Foodie Spread, which is a catering and grazing platter business, which I started when I was 15, around 2021 when we went into lockdown, and recently this year I launched Kobi 's Kitchen, which is healthy meal based sachets. We're also coming out with a couple of shaker products which have no nasties, you know, none of those sugars and fillers.

I'm really passionate about sharing that healthy eating and having a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be difficult and doesn't have to be hard. I love going to the beach as well. We do love the beach, my family. My grandparents live down there, so it's definitely where my happy place is by the water.

Where did the love of cooking come from?

I have three younger brothers who are all very fussy eaters, and mum would have to cook really basic meals for us cause we were all so fussy. Then, during lockdown, I was like, “oh, I'm sick of this, I'm sick of just having spaghetti every second night or burritos every second night”, so I was like, “I'll give it a go”.

Had some tragic events in the kitchen, but mum, dad, and the boys were always kind enough to let it slide and let me have one more go. I think being able to see how really prioritising your nutrition can benefit you in sport, I think that's where it's really come from. I like the science behind it as well, so I think they go hand in hand and I just loved it.

You mentioned winning the QGSSSA Cross Country this year. Talk us through that.

It was huge. It was so good, because it was more about being able to send a message to myself and to others out there that if you just stick at it, things do come, you do get it.

It's definitely a roller coaster ride, but you know that hard work, it does pay off eventually. I think sometimes, yes, you can believe in yourself, and people can believe in you, but until it actually happens, until you see it come to fruition, you don't really believe it.

From here, we're back in cross country season, so, I'm hoping to make Nationals in August this year. I did have a setback this year that was really quite disheartening. I missed out on the World Cross Country team by four places, which was a really big goal. I put that out there and I'm not disappointed that I did put it out there, but, yeah, that was really hard to take for sure. But, you know, you take the, the good with the bad, and looking forward to Nationals in August this year.

At what point in that race did you sort of realise that you were going to win?

When we first got on the line I had one goal that day and that was to win. I got myself out really hard - probably a little bit too hard - but with about 1200m to go, there's a certain spot on the course that I was like, “whether I'm in 10th, last or first, I'm going to put in a sprint or put in a surge” and that's exactly what I did. I don't think it's ever over until you cross that line.

They came at me with the last 300m to go, but I just had something on the day where I was like, “this is mine to lose”. It was nice in that last 80m to be able to see that tape and see my mum and dad and all the supporters in pink at the end of the line I was like, “oh my God, I've done it”. So, yeah, in the last 80m I was like, “okay, we're set here”.

How did it feel when you did cross the finish line and you knew you'd won?

I don't even know if I can describe it. It's a feeling quite like no other. You can win other races, but there's just so many people there and the vibe is electric at QGSSA. It's probably the best atmosphere I've ever had at any event. Even at Nationals, World Cross Country trials, nothing quite matches it. Crossing that line, it's just like the weight of the world's lifted off your shoulders and you just… I don't know how to describe it. It's just electric. It's so good.

Is that the crowning achievement so far? Is that the pinnacle in terms of your running?

It's definitely the pinnacle in terms of the story behind it. I've had other races where I’ve run really fast - I did Zatopek in Melbourne last year, where I ran a time that I was really stoked with, but you still come fifth so you don't win. At the end of the day, yes, we want to run fast, but you want to win as well. So, yeah, it's definitely up there with one of my best events for sure.

What else is on the calendar for the rest of this year from a running perspective?

We’ll head off to Nationals for cross country, and then the same in December for National Athletics. I think MBC as well is going to try to qualify for the Nitro - I think it's called the World School Challenge now - which is also in December. I have aspirations of heading over to college next year in America. Looking forward to that, and to hopefully get some good results here so it puts me in good stead for there.

You talked about potentially heading over to the US for college, what does the future after you finish Grade 12 look like for you?

My goal in the long term is I want to represent Australia at the highest level, whether that's the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games. For me, I feel the next best step is to go over to college and kind of bridge that gap between your Under 20s and your Opens. You also race a lot, and you race against the best. There's just such a big pool over there.

That's kind of where I'm heading from there. I do want to study something in entrepreneurship or marketing. I will have to take a step back with the businesses whilst I'm over there, just to kind of give myself every opportunity and put all my eggs in that one basket but once I come back, I really do want to continue that field of promoting healthy eating and having a healthy lifestyle.

We've had quite a few Olympians and elite athletes that have come through MBC over the years. What sort of inspiration has that provided?

It's massive. To be able to see girls who have walked the same paths as you go on to reach their pinnacle of whatever their sport is, is incredible. It shows you that it is possible and that we do have the facilities and the people that are leading you here that know what it takes to get to that level. To be able to go to your sports awards and have an Old Girl that is an Olympian, or a gold medallist, is actually crazy. It's very inspiring.