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Kirby Short is a professional cricket captain. But to her Year 10 PE class, she'll always be Miss Short.

Most would know Kirby Short as one of the most experienced players in women’s cricket, the captain of the Brisbane Heat Women’s Big Bash League team.

But to kids at one Brisbane high school, she’s Miss Short, the P.E. teacher.

The 31-year-old Queenslander spends her days wrangling senior students, coordinating staff in her department, and weekends motivating her teammates on the pitch. Before and after school she manages to squeeze in her training sessions, with the help of flexible coaching staff.

“It makes for reasonably full weeks, and my sanity at times could be questioned, but that’s OK,” she laughed. “I’m making both work for now, so I’m going to run with it.”

Short had originally planned on a career as a physiotherapist. She’d excelled at sport as teenager – first softball then rep cricket at the age of 17, and staying in that world seemed like a natural fit. But halfway into a Human Movement degree at university, she acknowledged a niggling desire to go down another path: teaching.

“I’d done a lot of coaching of sport, and it was just undeniable how much I’d get a kick out of seeing kids achieve something they didn’t think they could,” she told Mamamia. “That moment when the lightbulb goes off, and you’ve helped them get there, it really motivates me. I just love interacting with kids in that way.”

She now gets to strive for that on a daily basis, with her cohort of Year 10, 11 and 12 classes. That might sound like a nightmare to most – but for Short, it’s another challenge to be relished.

“They’re a little sassy,” she said. “But I kind of tend to quite like the naughty kids. They’re a bit of fun, so as long as they know where that line is.”

Kirby Short will this year captain the Heat for the second time. Image: supplied.
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They might seem different, her two lives, but Kirby said they seep into, even inform, one another in more ways than you might think: resilience, problem solving, accountability for performance. But it's in her capacity as a leader that she finds the biggest crossover between the two.

"Whether it's with teenagers or the adults in my faculty or the players, I'm using the skills of working people out and finding the best ways of communicating with them to maximise their potential," she said.

"That's a consistent theme in my life and a challenge that I really enjoy, finding a way to win them over and get them on-board... I don't know how successful I am, but I like to have a crack at trying to be that person in both spaces."

As for which poses more of a challenge: being in charge of a bunch of Year 10s or a team of elite-level athletes...

"Sometimes I wonder whether I am dealing with Year 10s at cricket. Some of the conversations we have with the younger players," she laughed. "But this year, I'd say my year 10s are more challenging than my cricket team. I've had a pretty out-there bunch, so I think they probably took the cake."

Kirby with her grandfather, first-class cricketer and Test umpire, Mick Harvey. Image: supplied.
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With the increasing attention being paid to the WBBL and women's cricket as a whole, it's unlikely the next generation of players will have to live two lives, in the way that Short does.

"It's pretty incredible... It's been a slow burn. I'm one of the older ones, I've been around for a while, so I've really seen that progress happen and I think it's remarkable that there's that level of interest now," she said.

"I love that I can stand in front of girls in my classroom and they can actually dream of being a cricketer, or and AFL player or a netballer. That's a very real dream now, that can be their job. And like boys can, they can chase that. It's pretty amazing."

The WWBL03 season kicks off on Saturday December 9. For more information about the teams, players and fixtures, visit the Big Bash League website.

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