by: VPM Staff
Editor’s note: Emma Schieck, is an outside hitter from Statesville, North Carolina. She is just 20 years old, but the product of South Iredell High School just had the most amazing experience of her young life at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. We asked the University of North Carolina junior to write about it:
Hi, my name is Emma Schieck, and I am a Paralympic gold medalist. That may seem like an abrupt introduction, but consider it my way of promising you that this long story has a happy ending.
My volleyball career began when I was 7 years old and first fell in love with the standing version of the sport. Volleyball was not always easy for me, mostly because of my physical disability. Due to complications at birth, I have from a Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI). My BPI affects my left arm and means that I cannot straighten or rotate my arm and it does not go behind my back. My limited strength and range of motion meant I had to work harder just to keep up with the other girls.
Nine years into my volleyball career I met Elliot Blake, the coordinator for USA Volleyball’s Developmental Sitting Volleyball Program and he introduced me to sitting volleyball. I was hesitant at first because of how difficult the sport is. My arm doesn’t reach the floor, so I struggled to move to the ball and that made everything else about the sport even more difficult. As hard as it was, I loved the challenge and began to get the hang of it. After a long standing volleyball career, I was shocked to find a sport that I loved even more.
Sitting volleyball was a faster and more condensed version of the sport I had spent years playing, and it wasn’t long until I was hooked. I would play at home with my able-bodied volleyball teammates, and they were also surprised at the difficulty of the sport but had fun trying it with me. My first training camp with the USA Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team was in 2017, only six months after my introduction to sitting volleyball. It was incredible to be surrounded by other athletes with physical disabilities who were as passionate as myself. In January 2019, I learned that I had been named to the team and my next goal became making the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Roster.
That became a reality this summer. Earlier this month, I got back from a two-week adventure in Tokyo where I was competing alongside my team in the Paralympics. Since being home, many people have asked me about my time in Tokyo and often I can’t help but laugh and say it was the most indescribable experience I could ever imagine, but here is my best attempt at putting it into words.
For the entire first week and a half of July this year, I walked around with my phone attached to my hip. I knew that any day my head coach, Bill Hamiter, would be calling to let me know whether I had been named to the Tokyo Paralympic roster. Nervous does not even begin to describe how I was feeling. We have 17 national-team athletes, but only 12 are named to the roster for each event that we go to. Our group of 17 is incredibly strong and capable, so there was really no point in even trying to guess what our roster would look like.[Read more…] about Paralympics Serving Specialist Emma Schieck Recounts USA’s Gold-Medal-Winning Trip to Tokyo