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S-GI graduate Olivia Emerling tackles plan B, as a track athlete at St. John Fisher College

Olivia Emerling
SPRINGVILLE — Four banners hang in the gymnasium at Springville-Griffith Institute High School.

These penants are dedicated to the four former Lady Griffin basketball players who belong to the 1,000-point club at S-GI.

These four S-GI alums eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone, during their time playing varsity basketball, in high school.

Occupying second place on the all-time scoring list is 2012 graduate Olivia Emerling, who made her mark on the basketball court and scored 1,058 points, during her five-year varsity career.

Emerling, who now attends St. John Fisher College in Rochester, said that she had been planning to play college basketball, but decided to run track, instead.

“Words can’t describe how much I miss being on the court,” Emerling said.

“I went to one Fisher game, this year, and it brought me to tears. I chose not to play, not because I couldn’t not play with them – because I knew I could. It was because my heart wasn’t in it anymore, as it used to be. It wasn’t the same as playing in high school.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling I felt, because you have to be the one experiencing it,” she said.

“There isn’t a day that goes by [that I don’t] think about playing again. Often, I sit and just think about how much fun I had, playing high school basketball. I miss the fans, the coaches, the support from the teachers and, most of all, my family, because they were around me, before and after my games.”

Emerling’s highly-decorated basketball career peaked, during her senior year. Her final year of eligibility saw her score nearly 16 points, per game. She led her team to the B-1 championship, held at Niagara County Community College.

Competing in Erie County Interscholastic Conference III, the Lady Griffins made a late-season playoff run that saw them fall just short of the Section VI crown.

At the season’s end, Emerling was named third team All Western New York and was named first team All-ECIC.

She was also selected to play in the Cheektowaga Lions Club’s annual Senior High School Ladies Basketball Classic.

Emerling had played varsity basketball since eighth grade and also competed in Amateur Athletic Union travel basketball.

“Before I made my decision about not playing basketball, all I could think about was my family, specifically my dad, because watching his daughter play basketball meant a lot to him and it was hard to tell him, along with the rest of my family, that I wasn’t playing,” Emerling said, about her decision to switch sports.

“After all those hours and days I spent playing my favorite sport, it was just a very hard adjustment.”

Emerling, a three-sport athlete at Springville, played volleyball and basketball and ran outdoor track, during the spring.

As a track athlete in high school, Emerling was a leg in the record-setting 4-by-400-meter relay and just missed breaking the school record, in the 400-meter hurdles.

On the college stage, Emerling currently competes in the 200-meter and 400-meter dash and is also a part of the 4-by-4 team.

“It’s a different experience in college, because it’s a lot more serious,” Emerling said. “I actually have to watch what I eat; have to stretch every day and, on top of that, fit in [my] school work. It’s like a job, but I love being active and love doing it.

“Track is a lot different from high school,” she explained. “It’s like a job, playing a sport in college, in saying that you need to be on time for every practice, eat healthy and look forward to hard workouts, full of running and lifting.”

Emerling competed in indoor track, during the winter. She posted 11 top 10 finishes in various events, including the 4-by-4 relay, 4-by-2 relay and 200-meter dash.

While competing at the New York State Collegiate Track and Field Conference Indoor Championship, hosted by Ithaca College, Emerling’s 4-by-4 team broke a school record, with a time of 4:16.07.

The athlete’s first outdoor meet saw her run the 400-hurdles, where she placed in sixth place.

Emerling is now participating in spring volleyball and said that she plans to try out for the St. John Fisher volleyball team in the fall, where she would join former high school teammate Paige Willson.

“Fisher is surrounded by athletes and I really love being a part of the community,” she said, about her college experience, so far.“If I could give any advice to high school athletes who want to play a sport in college, it would be to go for it. You only have four years to do what you want to do and what makes you happy, whether it’s a sport or something involved with school.

“I came in feeling afraid, and now, looking back, I am so happy that I tried all the sports I did in high school,” she added. “I feel proud, being an athlete at the collegiate level.”

Emerling said that she credited her family, with helping her to succeed. “Without their support and long talks, I would not be the athlete I am, today,” she said.

“They still support me, cheer for me at my meets and are my No. 1 fans. I will always miss being a Springville athlete, but now I know that I have to look forward and suspect great things to come,” the athlete concluded.

The athlete is the daughter of Carl and Sandy Emerling.

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