James Emmitt is director of PE and sport at Sevenoaks School, a co-educational day and boarding school for 11 to 18 year olds in Kent.
He taught PE at Chatham Grammar School for four years before joining Sevenoaks in 2007 as teacher of PE and head of football, before becoming the PE department’s director in 2013.
James also coaches 1st XI cricket and football as well as the U14A rugby team.
What school (s) did you go to?
I attended my local village school Vigo Primary, then Gravesend Grammar School.
What’s your earliest sporting memory?
It was the 1990 World Cup football finals. As a nine-year-old, I was captivated by the buzz around the country watching Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker light up Italia ’90 and there was also the David Platt volley against Belgium. On a personal level, I remember playing rugby in what can only be described as a muddy bog at Vigo RFC on a Sunday morning. It was brilliant fun.
Who were your sporting heroes growing up?
Michael Owen coming through the Liverpool ranks and scoring that goal against Argentina gave me wonderful memories. Also, while I was not technically still growing up, the whole of the 2003 rugby world cup squad were an inspiration. Also Roger Federer and Adam Gilchrist for winning and losing so gracefully. Both are so ice cool while maintaining that killer instinct.
What are your best and worst sporting memories of school?
My rugby team at school was not the most successful but we improved with age and our tour to South Africa was undoubtedly a highlight for me providing a tremendous experience gaining some life skills along the way. Captaining the school cricket 1st XI was another highlight and scoring a century in my final year.
Can you recall a memorable sporting teacher?
I was lucky enough to have a brilliant set of PE teachers at school. But Steve Adams, who now teaches at Gresham’s in Norfolk, was the one who truly inspired me into PE teaching. I know I was a real pain to teach at school but his character and sense of fun pushed me on.
What sports do you play these days?
At a six-day week school, most of my time is committed to coaching on Saturday afternoons. But five years ago I took up running. Since then I have completed five marathons including Paris, Brighton and Beachy Head with a personal best of 3.08. My ambition is to run under three hours. Running is my passion and it gives me a buzz every time I step out. It has enhanced my self-discipline and gives a real sense of achievement. It is a great stress reliever too.
In what other ways do you stay healthy?
I join in with touch rugby and football with the students at school and I can be occasionally spotted training in the school’s fitness suite although this is more of a rarity these days.
What is your favourite sporting memory?
I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the London Olympics to watch the athletics on super Saturday, which became the seminal evening of the entire games. It was brilliant to watch Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford win their gold medals but, having gone to university with Mo Farah, I was desperate to see him win and I have never been so nervous at a sporting event. The atmosphere was incredible.
What’s been your most embarrassing sporting moment?
Probably being sent off in year 9 house matches. Not my finest hour.
What’s your biggest sporting bugbear?
Treatment of officials in sport. Without them we would not have worthwhile, organised sport so accept the decision and move on. This applies to all players and supporters.
When was the last time you cried at a sporting event?
I have never really cried at a sporting event but I guess the closest I have come to that was watching Jonny Wilkinson kick the winning drop goal to win the 20013 rugby world cup with his wrong foot.
Which three sports people would you like to have around for dinner and why?
Vince Lombardi was one of the first people to modernise sport so I would be interested to hear his insights, including his inspirational approach to American football. Also Sir Bradley Wiggins as he has pushed unimaginable boundaries and Sir Ian Botham would be on the list for pure entertainment alone.
MY SPORTING LIFE