With a degree in dentistry, and more As to her name than the sound of a patient’s mouth opening wide, Jenna Beattie is no stranger to dedication and sacrifice.
It’s taken her years of hard work and effort to get to where she is now, but there’s something else she’s been desperate to get her teeth into.
From a very young age she’s dreamed of being a top level basketball player and now she has the chance to do so with Scotland’s first professional team Caledonia Pride.
She’ll be swapping dental drills for basketball drills after signing with the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) side – the only Scottish team in the division.
Of course to get to that professional level has taken years of practice and dedication on the court too.
The 26-year-old has been honing her skills at Falkirk Fury but has left her childhood club after 13 years. She says it helped her through studying and sitting exams. She’s achieved all As at Higher and Advanced Higher level, a prize for best elective project and completed her Glasgow University degree with commendation. Some might think it would be difficult to juggle the demands of both dentistry and top level sport, but Jenna said she couldn’t have achieved those results without basketball.
She told the Falkirk Herald: “I get asked this question a lot but I don’t really see it as juggling. I think one helps the other. Basketball is good for your mental health and it’s a bit of a relief from studying - it’s an escape, it helped me massively. I doubt I would have got those results without basketball.”
The 5 ft 11’ forward leaves Fury with a heavy heart. She has enjoyed plenty of success there; not only has she played for Scotland at Under 16 and U18 level, but she’s won the 2017 Scottish Basketball Championship play-off final, was the club’s player of the year the following year and clinched the Margaret Bunyan award – an accolade for outstanding service to the club – this year.
She also coached the under 14 and under 16 girls’ teams with the U16 girls winning the NDL and league play-off and the U14s winning the cup and national championships. She conceded seeing them win reduced her to tears, but she was delighted to be able to pass on her knowledge to youngsters.
However, she feels the move to Pride is a necessary step to challenge herself further.
She said: “Fury’s always been my home club. The people at the club are like my family. I’m going to miss John Bunyan he has been involved in my development. He’s been running the club and the senior women’s head coach since before I joined.
“It was a tough decision – it’s not so much I wanted to leave – but I want to push myself at a higher level and see how far I can go.”
It’s a life-changing move for Jenna. She will be leaving The Practice in Grangemouth to go work part-time at a practice in Livingston, whilst the majority of her time will be spent at the Oriam at Edinburgh University, where Pride are based, and travelling the UK for games.
She said: “Ever since I started playing basketball I always wanted to be the best I can be. I will miss the staff and patients at my practice, but it’s a sacrifice I’m going to have to deal with.”
And she has the full support of her family with mum Carol and dad Jim and her two brothers Douglas (16) and Glen (13).
She said: “They are really supportive, they say if the opportunity arises you’ve got to take it. You regret the things that you don’t do in life, not the things you do. My brothers are quite excited. Douglas always goes along to the gym with me and we push each other to get fitter and stronger.”
Jenna is under no illusions of how tough the step up could be. She has been training with Pride since January to get her up to speed – a move which materialised when she approached Pride coach Bart Sengers asking if she could be involved.
“I guess it showed courage,” she admitted. “It’s a big step up. Fury are in the Scottish National League and Caledonia Pride are in the Women’s British Basketball League.
“We are the only Scottish team. They are English players who play for Great Britain and have played in European Championships and there are a lot more foreign talents.
“I think this move has been my aim and ambition for a long time that I’ve not really thought too much about the next step. I want to be a part of Caledonia and give as much as I can to the team and show that there is always a pathway in basketball.
“I suppose I have done things a little bit different. Usually girls will go and play basketball in the States but with dentistry and education that wasn’t an option.”
The new season begins on September 27 and their first match is down in Essex so there’s plenty of hard work to be done between now and then.
She said: “It’s an opportunity that I’ve really wanted for a few years and it’s now come together at the right time. I’m so excited and ready to give it my all.”