Golspie High School’s Bethany Sutherland is the same as the majority of Scottish fifth-year pupils, fretting over prelims and working hard for her Highers.
But she is also a vey unusual schoolgirl in that she has a chance of making Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team next summer.
The 16-year-old played for Scotland at this summer’s World Youth Championships in Glasgow – and it was following a creditable 12th-place finish for the home team that the youngster was added to the long squad for Glasgow 2014.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call to ask me to join the Games’ training. My reaction was ‘are you serious?’” she said. “It would be absolutely amazing to make the team.”
For the Sutherland-based player, it is a huge commitment. She is also a member of the Scottish Under-19 squad and all the National training sessions under head coach Gail Parata take place on Saturdays and Sundays at East Kilbride.
“I go down every second weekend,” she explained. “Mum or Dad drive me to Inverness [one hour] and than I’m on a three and a half-hour bus ride to East Kilbride.”
Bethany is the youngest member of the Commonwealth Games squad – the only one still at school – but the six foot-tall teenager has a great netball pedigree. Her Mum, Pat, is a former England internationalist who played for her country in the World Championships.
Pat, whose husband, John, is from Golspie, is now helping to spread the netball word in the Highlands. A qualified physical education teacher – a career that Bethany also wants to pursue – she teaches the sport at Golspie High and at Golspie, Helmsdale, Brora, Rogart and Dornoch Primaries.
“Bethany has done really well to be included in the 20-strong Games squad and it is a long shot to make the final 12,” said a proud Mum. “But, whatever happens, it will have been a really good experience.”
Thanks to Pat and a number of enthusiastic supporters, including Fortrose-based Active Schools Co-coordinator, Nicola Mackenzie, netball is beginning to thrive in the north.
This winter, Mackenzie is launching a Highland and Moray schools’ league. It will be for senior one, two and three pupils and teams that have signed up are Fortrose Academy, Dingwall Academy, Thurso High School, Grantown Grammar, Millburn Academy, Inverness Royal Academy, Inverness High, Lochaber High, Gordonstoun and Golspie High.
“Already, the different areas of Highland run their own primary structure,” explained Mackenzie. “For instance, the annual Ross and Cromarty Primary school sport association netball tournament in Dingwall attracted 21 teams last session.
“Inverness netball is starting to grow with a large of number of primaries running festivals and that is having a knock-on effect when the pupils move into secondary.”
Bethany, who plays goalkeeper or goal defence, plays for the Dingwall-based Fyrish Flyers Club and the club’s Kate Whiteside is another doing her best to promote the sport and boost netball in schools.
“Netball Scotland has given us great support in the last year as well allowing us to progress rapidly. We received funding for them to establish a junior club in the Dingwall Fyrish Flyers,” she said.
“One thing that hinders us is the lack of venues which have netball courts.
“Most schools don’t have lines marked and the Inverness Hub doesn’t have a multi court arena like the majority of cities. More courts would mean more match play.”
Rugby: Watson’s in good shape ahead of cup quarter-final
Champions George Watson’s College will seek to take a further step towards a successful defence of their Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools under-18 Cup title when they face Glasgow High School at Old Anniesland tomorrow in the quarter-final of the competition.
Watson’s will go into this quarter-final tie buoyed by their 46-14 win over Merchiston at Colinton on Saturday.
Against Merchiston, Watson’s turned in an impressive display of rugby that resulted in a seven-try haul for the visitors, with two apiece for their age grade caps Ally Miller and Ben Robbins, and one each from Jamie Cousin, Robbie Nairn and Fraser McMullen. Callum Young converted four of his side’s tries and kicked one penalty goal.
“Merchiston played some very good rugby but we were able to capitalise on their mistakes,” said Watson’s director of rugby, Ally Donaldson.
Also bidding for a place in the last four of the under-18 Cup are Edinburgh Academy and Dundee High School, who meet at New Field tomorrow. Academy will have had their confidence lifted from a 22-22 draw with Blundells School at Tiverton before going on their October break. Tomorrow’s match at Newfield will be the first of two tough fixtures for Edinburgh Academy, who face Merchiston on Saturday.
Dundee High School come into the quarter-final tie tomorrow having bounced back to form this season after two or three leaner years and are unbeaten in domestic fixtures this term. The Mayfield side have benefited from the presence in their team of Scotland under-18 squad members Chris Jollands and Duncan Leese.
The draw for the semi-final, in which Strathallan and George Heriot’s School have already booked their places, will take place at Murrayfield tomorrow night. The expectation is that, because of a previously arranged event at Strathallan, only one of the semi-finals will now be played on 9 November on the 4G pitch at Murrayfield prior to the Scotland v Japan international match.
The other semi-final, involving Strathallan, will go ahead at a neutral venue and must be played before 16 November. The final has been confirmed for Wednesday, 27 November.
In the under-16 Plate North Berwick High School had a 50-15 win over Bell-Baxter High School, while Marr College triumphed over Carrick Academy in the final of the Glasgow South regional Plate at under-18 level.
Elsewhere, Stewart’s-Melville resume after their half-term break with a game this Saturday against Glasgow Academy and Heriot’s play Hutchesons’ Grammar at Goldenacre.
Curling: Brydone and his team basking in their golden moment
Perth High School’s Robin Brydone is 17 today – and he has plenty to celebrate and look forward to following his success in skippering Scotland to the gold medal at the latest round of the European Junior Tour in Oslo.
“It was my first trip abroad and I was the youngest member of the team,” said Robin, who led James Carswell (Neilston), Calum Greenwood (Forfar) and Thomas Halder (Inverness) to victory. In the final, the boys scored a great 4-3 triumph over Switzerland.
“It was great to win in Norway and now we are thinking of going to another tournament in Zoetermeer in Holland in February. But it all depends upon whether we can raise sponsorship. Anyone who is interested can follow our progress on our Team Brydone Facebook page.”
A girls’ team also came home with a medal – a bronze – and the line-up included one school pupil in Mary Erskine’s Naomi Brown. The team was led by Murrayfield’s Gina Aitken.
Robin started curling when he was just seven and he followed in the footsteps of his parents, Tom and Lesley. “I then applied and was accepted for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s talent programme,” he explained. “Last year I stepped up to the RCCC’s Academy.”
Robin has his eye on two titles this year – the Scottish Schools’ and Scottish Junior Championship. Under his leadership, Perth High has qualified for the final stage of the schools’ event at Murrayfield in March.
“We have a good school team this year so it would be nice to go deep into the Sunday,” he said.
As for the Scottish Juniors in Aberdeen at the end of March, he has his eye on the biggest event of all. The winners get to represent Scotland at the World Juniors in Flims in Switzerland in March and Robin wants to be in the mix.
“We want at least to make the final and the goal is to win,” he stated.
Looking further ahead, he is going to go to college and study sports coaching when he leaves school, while his curling ambition is to go all the way to a Winter Olympic Games.
Scottish coach Brad Askew was delighted with the medal double. “Robin taking gold and the bronze for Gina in Oslo was a big step forward,” he acknowledged.
Badminton: MacPherson helps Scots to top half
The Royal High School’s Julie MacPherson helped Scotland finish in the top half at the World Junior Team Championships for the Suhandinata Cup in Bangkok.
Thirty-two nations took part and the small Scotland squad was the only entry from the UK. Finishing 16th was a very creditable record
From today, Julie and her team-mates will compete in the individual championships. She is playing singles and also the girls’ doubles with her sister, Heather. In the singles, she has a tough opener against China’s Xin Yuang Wan.
The other team members are the two former Glasgow School of Sport pupils, Josh Neil and Adam Hall.
The Scottish youngsters finished second in Group X2. They lost to Malaysia in the opening match and followed up with a close 3-2 loss to Bulgaria. But they responded in positive fashion to beat the Philippines 4-1 and claim second place in their group ahead of Bulgaria on countback.
In the play-offs, a highlight was Josh winning his singles and doubles – with Adam – against Russia. Team manager Julie Hogg said: “The team can be proud of their efforts, especially as they were facing much larger squads.
Squash: Adderley’s victory brings squad invite
Mary Erskine School’s Georgia Adderley has scored a notable success by winning the Under-13 Championship at the Danish Junior Squash Open.
As a result, Scottish Squash has invited her to join the squad travelling to the Irish Open next month. Georgia is a member of the new all-girls’ Scottish training squad that aims to motivate the youngsters to work hard at the sport and have a smooth link to the senior game.