Excelling in the classroom and on the court

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Written By

Mykala Wright


College of Science and Engineering

Publish Date

16 March 2022

Related Study Areas

From recreation to competition

For Benson Emery, balancing his final year of high school and his passion for volleyball was no easy feat. When he decided he wanted to pursue university studies, he wondered if his athletic performance would suffer. But with the support of JCU’s Elite Athlete Scholarship, Benson is thriving in both.

Growing up watching his parents play from the sidelines, Benson has had a passion for volleyball for as long as he can remember.

“By the time I was 12 years old I was playing on my parents’ team and not long after that I joined a team with some of my friends. I started out playing recreationally but as I got better I began to develop hopes of playing more competitively,” Benson says.

At first, Benson wasn’t sure how he could turn this social pastime into an athletic pursuit. But when his Grade 10 sports teacher saw him play, they suggested he try out for the North Queensland team. Benson was awarded a spot and got his first taste of competitive volleyball.

“I hadn’t ever played indoor volleyball before, so being thrown straight into the state championships was daunting,” he says. “But playing against the best teams is what motivated me to become more serious about volleyball, so that my team had a better chance of winning.”

Benson at the JCU Townsville Beach Volleyball Club.

Supplied by Benson Emery.

Balancing study and sport

Since then, Benson’s love for the sport has only grown stronger.

In 2021 he was the captain of the Townsville Monsoons men’s team and the vice-captain of the North Queensland (NQ) schoolboys team. In the same year, Benson made the Under 18s Queensland state team as well as winning Gold in the challenger division in the Townsville round of the Queensland Beach Volleyball Tour.

“One of my proudest achievements was being the vice-captain of the NQ Schoolboys team when we placed 3rd in the state championships; it was the best result that any NQ team has ever achieved in volleyball,” he says.

“What I love most about the sport is that everyone on the court is always involved in the game and everyone plays an important role in helping the team succeed. It’s such a social sport, even at a competitive level; I’ve made so many great, close friends through playing.”

Now a first-year engineering student, Benson is hoping to excel in the classroom as well as on the court.

“I chose to study engineering because I love the real-world application of maths and science. When I did an engineering subject at school I could see how it took the knowledge I gained from subjects like physics and chemistry and put that into practice; I feel like it gave the rest of my learning a purpose,” he says.

“I’m considering going into mechanical engineering because of the promising job opportunities, but that’s a decision I won’t have to make until my second year of study at JCU.”

Benson in his North Queensland School Sport jumper with a medal around his neck.
An action shot of Benson jumping in the air while hitting a volleyball over the net on an indoor volleyball court as a crowd watches on.
Left: Benson with his NQ Schoolboys bronze medal around his neck. Right: Benson playing at the state championships. Supplied by Benson Emery.

High hopes for a bright future

With the Elite Athlete Scholarship Benson will be able to complete his university qualification without compromising his sporting opportunities. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 to JCU students in Queensland over the duration of their undergraduate course.

“Travelling for sport can be very expensive, but the funding I’ll receive from the scholarship will let me manage university around major tournaments that I might have had to otherwise miss because of financial and academic pressures,” he says.

“I feel honoured that JCU is willing to support my endeavours in volleyball. The Elite Athlete Scholarship will allow me to prioritise both my study and my sport.”

JCU Elite Athlete Scholarship recipient Benson Emery

Benson hopes that his passion, motivation and skill will see him representing Australia one day.

“My biggest goal is to eventually play for Volleyball Australia, as it has been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the Olympics,” he says.

For now, Benson is enjoying the excitement of working towards two achievements at once.

“In the next few years I’m aiming to succeed in uni and hone my skills as a volleyball player. I want to climb through the rankings in beach volleyball by playing in tournaments, and indoor volleyball by continuing to make junior state teams,” he says.

Benson hopes to see volleyball grow in rural and regional parts of Australia in the coming years. Sport brings communities together by promoting social interaction and physical activity, and Benson’s success highlights the importance of nurturing regional talent.

“I’m passionate about seeing volleyball develop in areas such as North Queensland. I get really excited when regional teams are able to compete against teams from larger cities and urban areas,” he says. “Volleyball is a very accessible and social sport — you only need 3 friends and a ball.”

Interested in how a scholarship can help set you up for success? Check out the Scholarships at JCU.

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