Training for an Olympic Games and balancing school commitments takes a great deal of dedication.
In the latest of our My Sporting Life series, Brodie, an aspiring cross-country skier who is a member of the sportscotland Young people's sport panel, tells us what it's like to balance high-performance sporting aspirations and school commitments.
From tries to trying out
I became involved at quite an early age. It was my dad who introduced me to rugby when I was really young and I enjoyed playing that for a few years. But when I started to gain quite a lot of injuries from tackles I questioned whether rugby was for me. I decided to try out a few more sports where there wasn’t as much physical impact.
When I was seven a unique opportunity arose. A local ski centre had organised a “come and try” day where people in the local community were invited to try out a lot of different sports and it was here where I first tried out cross-country skiing.
It stood out from the other sports for me because I thought it was different and quirky. I gave it a shot, I loved it, and I haven’t looked back since.
A balancing act
Training takes up a lot of my time. At junior level, my training programme is between 10-15 hours a week but looking ahead to senior elite level, in the build-up to a Winter Olympic year, it's likely to increase to nearly 30 hours a week!
Cross-country training is year round except for four weeks in May where I get some time off at the end of the ski season before training starts again in June.
It’s safe to assume there is no such thing as a quiet week when you are in full training mode and have school exams to think of. Every week, my coach sets out a number of programmes for us which can include a 30-minute session in the gym working on core strength, or perhaps they might choose to give us a three-hour roller ski session where we may cover around 50km on tarmac.
So while I spend a number of hours a week training, I also have to get school work done, and it’s especially hard right now as I’m in my final year and have exams looming.
Luckily, my school have been really supportive of my sporting activity and encouraged me as much as possible.
Where possible, they have allowed me to attend competitions throughout Europe and have helped me structure my studies around training.
A lot of pain and much more gain
I have had to put a lot of work into sport and sometimes it can be really challenging when I have so many other commitments to think of, like social activities and school exams.
Although the journey has been incredibly enjoyable, it has also been quite long. Looking back to my early days of cross-country skiing, I remember struggling to keep up and stay balanced.
I remember being intimidated by the older members of the group who had trained for several years and were so much better than me. But sport has allowed me to see that, if I take things one step at a time, I will eventually get faster and better . . . and soon I started competing against all ages in the UK.
As well as the obvious physical and health benefits, being involved in sport has benefited me in many ways. A key skill I have been looking to improve was to be more confident in public speaking. Until very recently, I had no experience of public speaking. However, through being involved in volunteering in sport through the Young people’s sport panel, I was given a fantastic opportunity to present in front of Active Schools coordinators from across Scotland.
Standing in front of around 100 adults was incredibly daunting, especially with my lack of experience.
However, I chose to prepare for it the same way I would for a race. I managed to control my nerves and I was able to deliver a good presentation. I now know I can do this, and I am thankful for the experience. With a little practice, just like sport, I know I can get better and improve – that’s if I ever do it again!
What the future holds
Looking towards the future I am hopeful that the best is yet to come. I have already been lucky enough to travel to some amazing ski camps and race in some fantastic locations throughout Europe. Just recently, I achieved the qualification standard to be selected for Team GB for the European Youth Olympics in Turkey and I am so excited!
I’m really hopeful this will lead to more opportunities and further advancements within the British Nordic team. It’s my first step on the Olympic ladder and it’s the start of a really exciting journey for me.
A note to the young people of Scotland
For anyone who may be a little nervous about starting sports or feel it’s not for them, I would say you need to give it a go. I wasn’t as interested in the more popular sports, or the sports I do at school. Instead I found a sport that I felt would work for me, and I have grown so much as a person because of it.
Participating in sport is an option, but through my volunteering experience as part of the sport panel, I have had the opportunity to improve on skills that I know I will need in later life.
We are lucky that Scotland has such great indoor and outdoor facilities that enable you to be part of just about any sport. You can be sure there is something out there for everyone. So my advice is to give one sport a try and it it’s not for you, try another one.
Find out more
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