Emily Starr is the cricket coach at Mayfield School. Here, she talks to AbEd about her journey into the profession

It was my grandparents who first inspired my passion for sport, encouraging me and watching my matches whenever they could. My grandfather played football in his youth with the late David Frost, journalist and media host, so our family is football-mad, and by the time I was a toddler, I was enthusiastically kicking a ball around the garden with my dad.

My love of football has continued throughout my life and I was lucky enough to be able to play competitively at school. When I was nine, I began playing for Leicester City Football Club Juniors and forged great friendships with girls who were also playing county cricket. Short of a player one weekend, they asked me to join them, and the rest, as they say, is history. I played cricket for Leicestershire Girls until I started studying for my GCSEs when the travelling became too much on top of a heavy academic workload, so I began playing for the more local Northants instead. There I was given the opportunity to try out for the England Indoor Cricket Squad and play international cricket.

I was over the moon to be selected and I played my first international match at the Indoor World Cup in Bristol. This was a wonderful experience, but the highlight of my cricketing career came when I was invited to play at the Indoor Cricket World Cup in Brisbane in 2009. I will never forget the wonderful team camaraderie, fantastic beaches, the outstanding cricket, and singing the National Anthem ahead of the game. It was quite an adventure for one so young.

I went on to study Sports Science and Business Studies at Loughborough, where I played for the MCCU Academy. The Loughborough University team included nine members of the England Women’s Cricket Squad, so another door opened for me when I was selected to play outdoor cricket with them for the England Regional Development Squad. My ultimate dream had always been to play outdoor cricket for England and it was everything that I had hoped it would be.

An unfortunate stress fracture in my spine led me to consider coaching opportunities instead. I returned to my former school, Bishop Stopford, to coach sport and to train ‘on the job’ for my QTS. Two years later, I began teaching sport at Mayfield School in East Sussex, where I now live and work. I launched straight into setting up a cricketing programme for the girls, most of whom had not played cricket before.

A year on, I am in the process of organising Mayfield’s greatly anticipated first-ever cricket tour to Sri Lanka which will see the U14 and U15 teams heading off on an adventure next summer. Teams of all age groups have developed enormously, with some notable match successes against schools with much longer cricketing histories than ours. I am very lucky to have such enthusiastic and committed players, and whenever they need bolstering, I remind them that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”!

Alongside coaching, I am currently trying out for the Kent County Cricket Squad. I’m hoping to get back on the pitch again soon to inspire more of our Mayfield girls to try out for county cricket themselves. 

Emily Starr Playing
Emily in action