Being a mum and representing Scotland is something Claire Maxwell is grateful she is able to combine. She would not change it for the world.
Maxwell returned to netball this year after giving birth to daughter Lucy, who will be in the stands to watch her compete in her third Commonwealth Games this summer.
The Turriff athlete will once again captain Team Scotland in Birmingham but with the added motivation this time of a new loved one to perform for.
Combining motherhood and elite sport is a subject Maxwell is passionate about and one she believes should be spoken about more.
The support network and personal dedication required to return to the game she loves is not something she takes for granted. Add to that the fact Maxwell also fulfils a full-time job as a PE teacher, it makes her place at the forefront of Team Scotland even more creditable.
“It certainly keeps me motivated and gives me that extra bit of pride, having my daughter in the crowd supporting us,” said Maxwell. “It’s a big bonus having her as part of my cheer squad and I’m really lucky to have a great support team that’s allowed me to go on and achieve my dreams, while also being a mum.
— Claire Maxwell (Brownie) (@BrownieMaxwell) June 8, 2022
“I definitely feel it’s something which should be spoken about more, both in terms of the positives and the challenges. There are numerous of both; I’m fortunate to have a great support team and the coaches are really understanding, allowing me to have a smooth journey back.
“Why should female careers stop because they want to start a family? It should be a spoken-about topic that you can have a child and continue to achieve your own dreams.
“The biggest challenge initially is sleep deprivation – you don’t realise how important sleep is until it comes away from you. The next one for me is having gone back to work full-time, is having enough hours in the day.
“That’s where your dedication kicks in because you’re training at odd hours. You can’t really be selfish because you’ve got the mum-hat on as well. It’s about being organised and when you do train, making sure it’s of real quality.
“It is a challenge and if I was on my own, I would find it extremely hard. I owe a lot to the people round about me to help me achieve my dreams.
“My daughter won’t know too much about what’s going on, having just turned one, but to be able to look back in the future and tell her stories about when her mum represented Team Scotland in the Commonwealth Games is pretty special and unique.”
Maxwell was back on court in 2022 for Strathclyde Sirens in the Netball Superleague, as they finished eighth in the table.
She has experience from Games in Glasgow and Gold Coast to draw upon but given the packed fixture schedule, it can be challenging to soak up being part of Team Scotland.
“Every minute matters, in terms of soaking it all in and taking your learnings forward. You can’t drop your concentration; we play numerous games across the competition and it’s all about learning.
“When it comes to the crunch games, you need to be ready to perform. It’s a tough competition in terms of scheduling so you need to be physically prepped to play game after game at a high level.
Name: Claire Maxwell
Home town: Turriff
Previous CG experience: 2014, 2018
“It’s all about the processes. You try and take each games as it comes and not think too far in front. We’ve got key games we really want to focus on and then we’ve got games against the world number one, where it’s all about us and what we can learn from it.
“It’s important to take it day-by-day at the Games and do your best in the precise moment. That’s what we’ll be trying to do.”
Scotland will start in Birmingham against world number ones Australia, as they strive to improve on the two ninth-placed finishes they recorded in 2014 and 2018.
But this Scotland side, under the stewardship of Tamsin Greenway, are an ambitious bunch. Their aims are high.
“We don’t take our place in the squad for granted. It’s a massive achievement for everyone. I’ve now been selected for three Commonwealth Games – I wouldn’t have believed that as a 10-year-old.
“It will probably be quite emotional, even in the opening ceremony when you’ve got that Scotland flag. You’re part of something bigger than just yourself.
“I’m really happy with where I’m at and I’m excited to take the court as a mum. I think it’ll be the first time in the netball squad we’ve had an athlete take the court at the Commonwealth Games who’s a mum.
“It adds to a different element to it, in comparison to other Commonwealth Games, but I put in a lot of work pre and post-pregnancy to make sure when I did come back to the court, I’m fighting fit and can lead the team how I want to lead it.”