Rebecca Maclean clocks up more than 650 miles in her car every week to coach judo, but she says her love of the sport makes her arduous commuting more than worthwhile.
The 26-year-old coaches three days a week with Judo Girls Rock, a programme delivered by Judo Scotland, Scottish Sports Futures and Youth Scotland, designed to give young girls a pathway into sport, in Springburn, Whiteinch and the east end of Glasgow, travelling from her home in Fort William.
Her incredible dedication to the sport and the girls she coaches was recognised when she won the Young Coach of the Year award at the sportscotland Year of Young People Awards 2018 on January 26.
Thanks to Rebecca and her near-14-hour days, as well her professional preparation and delivery of each session, many girls have a pathway into judo that previously didn't exist.
And the modest coach says she doesn’t think twice about the many hours she spends on the road, explaining it is a sacrifice she is happy to make if it provides youngsters with the opportunity to take up the sport she loves.
She said: “I love Judo Girls Rock and I’ve noticed a big difference in myself since I started it. The sessions are being delivered in areas of deprivation and the programme is so good for the girls, I’ve seen such a massive difference in all of them.
“I absolutely love it, that’s why I keep doing it. I’ve grown such a bond with the girls and the project.
"To see the difference in the girls while I’ve been working with them is so satisfying, that is the key to it.
“To see other girls enjoying judo like I did when I was younger is brilliant.
“We have girls who are talking about doing competitions and I did a session where all the mums and the sisters of the girls took part. Now we have mums talking about trying judo with their daughters.”
Rebecca was a skilled judoka herself and competed for Scotland up until the age of 20. But having moved to Edinburgh to compete, she became homesick and some niggling injuries led to her return to Fort William.
After having taken the decision to compete less, one thing was clear for Rebecca: she wanted to remain involved in judo in some capacity.
Rebecca started at Judo Girls Rock three years ago, with no previous youth work experience. But a few months ago she got a new job as a youth development officer in Ardnamurchan, about an hour from Fort William by ferry.
On the right path
She is in no doubt that her volunteering work has set her on the right path to a career in sport.
Rebecca added: “I started judo when I was 10. I left Fort William to live in Edinburgh to compete, then when I started competing less I got myself into coaching, I love the sport so I wanted to stay involved in it.
“I got a bit homesick when I was living in Edinburgh and wanted to come home. I picked up a few injuries and missed my family so it was culmination of those things that helped me decide to move home.
“When I started coaching I didn’t really have any youth work experience. But in the last few months I’ve got a job as a youth development officer.
“I applied for that position after delivering Judo Girls Rock and looking at the connection between sport and youth work. Since I’ve been young I’ve always loved sport, I always thought sport would be the career path I would take.”
Find out more
Discover more about Judo Girls Rock at the Judo Scotland website.