Spartan excels in athletics and academics

Emma Nuttall has lofty aims. The TWU Spartans high jumper and 2012-13 U Sportss silver medalist is currently ranked 1st in the U Sports and 38th in the world, and is on track for another stellar track and field season.

“Believe it or not, I wasn’t the most sporty child,” said the Edinburgh native, now in her third year at Trinity Western. Late in her primary school years, she found her footing in track and field as a sprinter, runner, and long-jumper before discovering her specialty.

Following high school, Nuttall—who won U Sports gold in her first season at TWU—did a year-long stint at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where she focused on her track career rather than academics. In Glasgow, she met Canadian Laurier Primeau, who was coaching Scottish National Athletics track and field team at the time.

The pair worked well together. “I learned so much from Laurier,” Nuttall said. “He introduced me to new ideas and concepts—a different way to approach training. I learned from him, but also by watching him with other athletes.”

As head of Scottish Athletics, Primeau worked with Nuttall and fellow athlete Calum Innes, a sprinter and hurdler, and had developed a strong relationship with both. In 2010, he resigned from his post to move his young family back to Canada.

Nuttall was faced with a big decision: stay in Scotland, or follow her coach to TWU, where Primeau had been tapped to head up the University’s Track and Field program. “Laurier really cares about you as a person, not just as an athlete,” she said. “He knows how to get me to be my best.”

After a 2011 campus visit with teammate Innes, Nuttall decided to commit for a year—and stayed. “That was definitely the right decision for me,” said the history major. “TWU has shaped me for the better. There was a reason for me coming here; it was the best choice I could have made.”

“Emma and Calum are not just great athletes, but great people,” said Primeau. “They are blessed by the TWU community—but are also contributors to it.”

Now in her third year, Nuttall is becoming comfortable in the role of mentor to her younger teammates. “Our team is like family,” she said. “At TWU, I’ve been given confidence in myself. My first year was hard, being away from family and friends. But each year gets better, and now I have two homes—Canada and Scotland.”

Since coming to TWU, Nuttall has excelled both on the field and in the classroom; her current GPA is 3.82. “While track and field is a major part of Emma’s life, it’s still just a part,” said Primeau. “She is very family-oriented, very academics-focused. She doesn’t have to sacrifice sport performance to have those close relationships. There is no compromise with her.”

In her season opener at the University of Washington Indoor Preview, Nuttall garnered an indoor personal best of 1.86m and in early February, she and her Spartans teammates brought home five gold medals at the Harry Jerome Classic. Upcoming events for Nuttall and her teammates include the U Sports Nationals March 7-8. “I’m excited to see how the team does,” she said. “We’re moving up each year.”

This summer, Nuttall will compete in the British Championships. But her biggest challenge will be the Commonwealth Games, where she’ll represent Scotland on home turf—something she very much looks forward to. “It’s so exciting. But the reality is I have a lot of work to do,” she said. “I have to work hard to prove I deserve to be there.”

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