Learning volleyball as a primary school-aged student, Jemma Stokes never thought it would end up with her relocating to Canberra to access the Australian Institute of Sport’s Centre of Excellence – but it’s now a reality.
The 17-year-old from Lakes Entrance will next week embark on an opportunity of a lifetime, moving to Canberra after accepting an offer to compete and train at AIS, while completing year 12 at the AIS University of Canberra Senior Secondary College.
“I’m very excited and a bit nervous, but it should be really good once I get up there,” Jemma said.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who recently interviewed Jemma on local community radio, caught up with her this week to congratulate her on the achievement.
“Jemma, who has already made national squads for her age group, is an impressive young person – both on and off the court – and I have no doubt she has a huge future in front of her,” Mr Bull said.
As part of the AIS female volleyball squad, Jemma will be training 5-6 days per week while also competing in the Canberra Volleyball League and the Australian Volleyball league. The youngest member of the squad, she will also become the first female athlete to train at the Centre of Excellence while completing her schooling at the same time since Shannon Winzer, Head Coach of Australian Volleyroos and the Centre of Excellence, has started the new women’s program.
Having first started volleyball at Lakes Entrance Primary School, she was strongly supported by local coach Dave Smyth.
“Dave has been massive to me – he’s coached me ever since grade five. Without him I wouldn’t have made the state team or anything,” Jemma said.
“Jemma’s past achievements include serving as captain and vice-captain for Victoria’s “A” and “B” level teams in the under 17 and under 19 age groups, representing the Latrobe Valley in the Victorian state league and also playing for Australia at different levels, including in Thailand as recently as April last year,” Mr Bull said.
“Amazingly, at the end of Jemma’s junior career she will have travelled more than 72,000 kilometres and spent 120 weekends in the car and playing volleyball during trips to commitments in Melbourne alone.
“However, what is probably more important is that she maintains a level head in relation to the future and realises her studies are vital for her future which makes me very confident she has a successful future off the court as well.”
Whilst at the AIS, Jemma said she was undecided as to whether she would seek professional contracts overseas or further her studies in Australia and strive for a position in the Australian Volleyroos Team.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, congratulates Jemma Stokes, pictured alongside her father, Brett, on her selection to the Australian Institute of Sport’s Centre of Excellence.
Monday, January 24, 2018