by Gary Andrews
The words “down time” don’t exist in Emily Willmann’s vocabulary.
The Manchester University rising junior likes to stay busy whenever she can. This summer is a good example, as she is a lifeguard at a pool near her home in Montpelier, while holding down a job at a factory and also finding time to help the Blackford High School girls’ soccer coaching staff by working with the goalkeepers.
“I always have to be doing something,” she said with a laugh. “If I’m not busy, I’m going stir crazy sitting around.”
So, it would seem as no surprise that she has taken on a role as a two-sport student-athlete for the Spartans with much success. Willmann enters the fall as a two-time all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree in women’s soccer which includes a first team selection last season, while her efforts on the Spartan softball diamond haven’t been overlooked, either, as she’s been the starting shortstop in each of the last two seasons.
“I’ve been around sports my whole life,” she said of her two-sport status at MU. “Soccer starts from age five on up where I live, and I was a four-sport athlete in high school, so why should college be different. It’s what I’m used to.
“I’ve found it helps me stayed focused in the classroom, too,” she added. “It makes me stick to a schedule and get things accomplished (on time), so I can have the opportunity to compete and train at the level I want to.”
Tracy Cromer and Andy Stout, Willmann’s two head coaches, couldn’t be happier that she has found a balance to work things out academically and at both venues.
“Her athleticism was a big draw when our staff watched her play in high school,” Stout said. “She is a great presence in the back, too. Emily isn’t afraid to get after the defenders in front of her and get them lined up and is also willing to yell out to the offense when she sees things. She’s the type of person you want on the field at all times due to her leadership capabilities.”
“We knew immediately that she would be a strong shortstop candidate coming in,” Cromer added. “Her athleticism was a big bonus for us as well as it helps on defense and at the plate. I really like the way she handles working with both sports, too. She gives each of them her due diligence when they are in season which we both appreciate.”
With Willmann’s current thoughts fixed directly on soccer, she knows what she enjoys the most about her time in net.
“The big saves are the best,” she said. “It’s awesome having an opposing striker hammer a shot at you (that nobody thinks you will get to) and then you get a piece of it and deflect it away. Some of those chances help win matches, which is what I want to help our team do.”
While she and her Black and Gold teammates hope the 2013 soccer season lasts a while, there are always opportunities ahead for Willmann.
“I usually take a few days after a season ends to step away (from sports), but then it’s on to something else,” she said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”