We were delighted to announce the other week that two of our students and two of our graduates will be heading off to the Gold Coast to compete in the Commonwealth Games in April. They’re even on the same team, playing hockey for Scotland.
We caught up with our four players.
Becky Ward graduated with a degree in Sports Biomedicine in 2010. Since then she has moved to Glasgow where she now works as a PE teacher. She’s no stranger to the Commonwealth Games – this is actually her second Games as she competed on home soil last time round in 2014.
“I first started playing hockey when I was 8 years old,” said Becky “My Auntie had been a member of my local club, Dundee Wanderers, for years and my cousin who was the same age as me also started going along.
“To be selected for my second Commonwealth Games is hugely exciting and I feel terribly honoured to be pulling on a shirt as part of Team Scotland. It is a completely different experience to the tournaments and competitions we normally go to with it being a multi-sport event and we are all looking forward to getting out to Australia and getting the tournament started. We want to go out and put on a performance that we are proud of and to show Scottish hockey at its best.”
Charlotte Watson is currently in her second year of studying Accountancy and Finance. This is her first Commonwealth Games and she’s been playing hockey since she was four-years-old.
“I’m really excited to get out to Australia,” said Charlotte. “It’ll be a different experience from other tournaments as it’s a multi-sport event.
“The uni has been really good when it comes to taking time off for the Games. I’m getting to sit my exams at resit time. So I’m just trying to catch up while I’m here in Scotland.”
Sarah Jamieson graduated in 2016 with a degree in Scots Law and Spanish. She returned the following year to complete her diploma in Legal Practice. She’s currently hockey coach at George Heriot’s in Edinburgh.
“I have chosen to take some time to focus on hockey before I throw myself into my legal career,” said Sarah. “I wanted to achieve my goal of selection for the Games so this seemed the sensible move to give myself the best chance.
“I moved back to Edinburgh this year so was ideally looking for coaching there and luckily Amy Brodie, a fellow Scotland team mate, works at George Heriot’s and was looking for a coach for their second team. I’ve really enjoyed having my own team for the first time and I have learned a lot from Amy.
“I’ve always had to balance studies around playing hockey so it was something I was used to, but doing this at university level was even more challenging. I had to be totally on top of my schedule at all times. I needed to know when I would have really busy weeks of hockey and University well in advanced, so I was never surprised by having a load of deadlines at once! I had plan out my weeks to find the spare hours I had to study and make those hours as productive as possible. I was very lucky in my final year to have the support of the Director of the Diploma, Liz Comerford and the rest of the Diploma staff when I had to miss the first two weeks of class because of a training camp. This was a big step for me in the squad and was vital for making sure I was in a good place for selections, so I’m really grateful for the support and flexibility they provided me.
“It’s really hard to describe the feeling of being selected for the team. Four years ago, watching the team compete at the Glasgow Games, I could never have imagined that I’d be in this position now. It was a dream that I really didn’t think was possible, so to have worked so hard and to make it to this position is pretty unbelievable. I’m just so proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity and can’t wait to get out to the Gold Coast and do my best for Team Scotland.”
Karin Belch is currently in her final year of her medicine degree. She will be heading out with the team as a travelling reserve, and isn’t the first of her family to go to the Commonwealth Games.
“60 years ago my Granny swam for Scotland,” said Karin “She’s very excited to see me go off to the Games.”
But that’s not the only family link to the Gold Coast this year – “My mum is a physio, so she’s going, and she’ll also be joined by my step dad who is an analyst. My brother lives in Sydney, my boyfriend lives in Melbourne and my sister is doing a vet placement out there, so the whole family is going.”
Karin is delighted to have made it to the team, after having a difficult training camp. “I had to take a year out because of my final medical exams.” she said. “Then I came back in September, trained hard and got selected for the training camp. However, in the first week I tore my quads so I couldn’t play and then in the third week I sprained my ankle and had to fly home early. So I didn’t expect to get picked at all.
“It’s really good to be on a team with a fellow student and two graduates. When we were all in Dundee at the same time we trained together twice a week. Training was either in Stirling or Glasgow, so you felt as if you spent all your time with these girls. So it’s amazing that four out of four of us made it.
“Juggling hockey and a medical degree has been hard, but the team in School of Medicine have been amazing and really helped me out this year. My yearbook actually says my most common phrase is, ‘Sorry I’ve got hockey.’”
You can support Karin, Becky, Charlotte and Sarah by watching the Commonwealth Games 2018 from Wednesday 4 April.