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Emma prepares for life on and off the field

Academy of Sport student Emma Stockwell is studying to become a rugby union coach while playing professionally, setting her up for life after playing and learning the nuances of the sport she loves.

"Studying is so important, especially for athletes, because you can’t be an athlete forever, so you need something else to identify with and fall back on when your playing days are over," Emma explained.

When she discovered the course's flexible training environment, meaning she could meet her playing commitments while studying, she enrolled in the Diploma of Sport (Coaching) (SIS50321-COACH).

"Being an elite athlete, I have many demands, like physio, meetings, training, and the teachers ensure my studies can fit around them – it works so well."

Emma attends classes at Ballymore Stadium's National Rugby Training Centre in Brisbane, where she is learning coaching fundamentals under her teachers, Graham Leeson and Jo Staples.

"Both of my teachers are great mentors, and they put coaching concepts into a rugby context, making it easy for me to understand because I'm a player too," explained Emma.

Studying at Ballymore, rather than in a traditional campus setting, allows Emma to experience elite-level rugby training first-hand.

"I've attended Reds Super Rugby training sessions, and seeing the intensity at which they run their drills enhanced my knowledge of coaching at this level."

"Just seeing how the coaching staff adapts to each athlete because they each learn differently, and watching them take that knowledge on and seeing its positive impact is just great," she said.

Also helping Emma is the TAFE Queensland Emerging Athlete Scholarship, awarded to students pursuing excellence in their sporting careers whilst undertaking studies to support existing or future employment pathways.

The hands-on delivery of her course is taking Emma's coaching career to the next level as she gets insights about the game she never knew existed and the skills required for a high-performance coaching career. 

"This course is teaching me coaching fundamentals, and I'm learning so much about coaching the sport I love," continued Emma.

"Mondays, we plan, write and deliver coaching plans on the field, then debrief as a class afterwards. It's a good balance of theory in the classroom and putting it into practice on the field, and it's the perfect way to learn," she explained.

Emma is also learning how to design, deliver and manage a range of community sports and recreation activities while managing risk and leading, coaching and managing players while maintaining workplace health and safety.

"I had no idea about limiting the number of full-contact sessions players should do each week, so it's been perfect to fill in my knowledge gaps."

In addition to filling her knowledge gaps, Emma's confidence is building, and each class assures her that she's on track to take her passion for rugby union to be a successful coach in the future.

"My coaching skills are skyrocketing - knowing what techniques to teach players, how to engage them to learn and communicate effectively has been amazing."

Having played for Queensland Under 16, Under 18, Queensland sevens, and Under 18 Reds as well as being named in the Australian Merit Schoolgirls team in 2022, her playing career is blossoming.

Most recently, she played in a Queensland Reds Super W trial match and is now determined to one day pave the way for more female rugby players by sharing her knowledge of the game.

"I want to inspire female and young girls to play the sport they love, with the skills they need to reach the highest level of rugby they're capable of."

"This diploma is giving me the skills I need to transfer my playing experiences to coach and positively impact players," concluded Emma.