When Emma Waldie was five, she started playing ‘baby volleyball’ at an Active Schools club in the sports hall at Echline Primary School in South Queensferry.
It was an introduction to sport that would go on to define and shape her life.
Emma is now one of the leading volleyball players in Scotland. Alongside Jennifer Lee she became the first Team Scotland representative in beach volleyball at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, where the duo reached the semi-finals.
From time to time, Emma returns to Echline Primary to deliver baby volleyball classes to pupils in her capacity as an Active Schools volunteer. When she finishes school at Queensferry High School her ambition is to study PE teaching at university.
So how did Emma’s participation in sport at such a young age enable her to progress to the point where she can compete on the world stage, inspire other people as a young leader, role model and coach, and even pursue a professional career?
Strong links between community and school sport in her area were a critical factor.
Joining City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club, winner of Local Club of the Year at the 2016 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards, enabled her to develop her volleyball skills outside of school and gave her a pathway to the national team structure run by Scottish Volleyball.
Active Schools was another major driver. Emma volunteered at Games @ The Hub – a mass participation school sports day in Edinburgh – in 2015, 2016 and 2017, progressing each year to take on more responsibility for the delivery of the volleyball activity.
“Volunteering with Active Schools is a fantastic opportunity to develop your confidence and gain more experience of coaching, and it also helped me to choose my career path,” says Emma.
Heather Brownlee is Active Schools Coordinator for the Queensferry area and the coach who delivered Emma’s first baby volleyball sessions. Alongside fellow coaches at City of Edinburgh VC, she has been one of the key people involved in Emma’s development.
“Emma’s always been very active and involved in sport and she has embraced the opportunities she has had through volleyball, being a player, a coach and an officiator,” says Heather.
“The sport has given her so many experiences that have shaped her life as a young person.”
An ambassador on and off the court
In her fourth year at Queensferry High, Emma was selected as one of two Young Ambassadors to participate in the National Lottery-funded sportscotland programme that contributes to the development of young people as leaders in sport.
Meanwhile, she continued to progress in volleyball both as a player and a coach.
“In May 2017 I started training for the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, bang in the middle of studying for five Highers. I received great help from the guidance teachers at school and club coaches as well, who understood that I had to miss some sessions,” says Emma.
"I’m hoping to continue playing for the senior national team and I would love to compete at the senior Commonwealth Games for Scotland whenever that opportunity materialises.
“I think it’s so important to give something back to the sport that has given you everything, and I’ve done my UKCC Coaching Level 1 and 2 qualification, and I’m about to do it in beach volleyball too so I will be qualified to coach both indoors and outdoors.
“I’ve been coaching for quite a few years now, mainly as a junior being mentored by older coaches but now I’m starting to lead sessions myself and really help to develop young players in the club.”
An integrated, world class sporting system has given Emma every opportunity to build sport into her life, starting in her community and progressing to a national and international level. She has benefited from having the right people in the right places to support her.
Emma’s own dedication has done the rest.
Find out more
- Visit the Scottish Volleyball Association website
About school sport and community clubs in Scotland
- Playing Our Part: summary of progress is sportscotland's annual report 2017-18
- Check out the other two case studies featured on Sport First:
- Visit the Playing Our Part home page to explore the data that illustrates our progress in the period April 2017 to March 2018
- This report covers the third year of the 2015-19 corporate plan: Raising The Bar. It allows us to assess what progress we have made towards achieving our impact measures
- You can find also Playing Our Part alongside previous annual reports on the sportscotland website
Want to talk about it?
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