Tooker sisters win beach volleyball scholarship
AN EXCITING new chapter has opened for Gladstone sisters Emily and Rhiannon Tooker in the shape of a lucrative beach volleyball scholarship with Olympic gold medallist Natalie Cook.
The teenagers will link with Sandstorm, a Brisbane-based beach volleyball company owned by Cook, which will provide them with specialised training, clothing, accommodation and travel costs and entry fees to all beach volleyball competitions.
The Gladstone Volleyball School of Excellence squad mem-bers were offered the scholarship by Cook after starring for Gladstone State High School sides at last month's Australian Schools Cup in Melbourne.
Yesterday, Emily Tooker said the sisters had given thought to pursuing their indoor volleyball careers through the United States college scholarship system. However, they welcomed the beach option.
She said the pair was looking forward to training with Cook and hoped to benefit from her knowledge of the game.
Cook's inspiration for establishing the scholarship program was to help lift Australian beach volleyball teams to the level of success she has enjoyed.
Emily, 16, and Rhiannon, 15, spent last week in Brisbane training with School of Excellence head coach Brian van der Weide at the new $1 million beach volleyball centre at QEII Stadium, which will be opened next month.
The girls also trained with the Queensland Academy of Sport beach volleyball squad.
They will continue training in Gladstone this week before contesting their first tournament in Mackay this weekend.
They will then back it up by contesting the Queensland Open from January 28 to 30 the following weekend and the Australian Junior Masters Championships from January 31 to February 2.
Both events will be contested at Surfers Paradise.