Emma Schieck

Emma Schieck, Sitting Volleball Gold Medalist


Emma Schieck is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This native of Statesville, North Carolina started playing volleyball when she was just seven years old. Due to complications at birth, she suffered nerve damage which affected her left shoulder/arm. As a result, her arm does not straighten, fully rotate, or go behind her back, called a brachial plexus injury. So, although she loved standing volleyball, she decided to try sitting volleyball instead. Although it wasn’t love at first practice, Schieck stuck with it, mostly because of her amazing teammates,   and won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics!

In addition to winning gold in the Paralympics, Scheick also won a gold medal at the World Championship in 2019. We are so excited to see where she goes from here! Congratulations, Emma!

10 Questions With Emma

1. What is your favorite thing about being a woman in sports?

 The coolest thing about women in sports is the environment and the relationships created. It’s not about the trophies. Give sports a shot for the community. embrace what is difficult and to overcome it.

2. Who is someone you look up to?

My teammate, Katie Holloway. She helped push for equal pay for paralympic athletes. I never realized how much you can do by being an athlete until I met her.

3. What advice do you have for young, aspiring para athletes?

Go for it, dive right in, try able body sports, reach out to paralympic athletes, want to grow the movement, community is incredible, just go for it and you never know what can happen.

4. What show are you currently watching on Netflix?

I’m rewatching How I Met Your Mother. Then I’ll start rewatching the Harry Potter Series! 

5. What as your transition been from high school to college?

There’s much more freedom in college, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s all up to me to navigate my college career since I’m a team USA athlete who attends UNC-Chapel Hill,  and not a UNC athlete. I have to make sure I can balance both, and make sure I have time to be with Team USA and attend classes. I had to get ahead early in communicating with classes and my professors. I’m currently taking a semester off, so there’s even more communication and balance with that.

6. What are your plans for after college?

I plan on playing sitting volleyball for as long as possible. I want to keep playing and also want to move to off-court paralympic movement. My plan is to reach out to athletes with disabilities and work with children with disabilities.

7. What is the main difference in playing high school volleyball compared to the paralympics?

High school volleyball has a different culture. The sport is not the only thing you do.  Sitting volleyball is dedicated to the sport and training. It is what we spend our lives working towards. Unlike school sports, sitting volleyball has no season. We have a quad that is four-year season nonstop. The recovery and training process is different. We have smaller events sprinkled within the four years. Ther is always something to work towards. Our World Championship is in May. 

8. How often do you practice and train?

The team usually gets together once a month for a long weekend. You can be a resident where you live in a complex with the other athletes, which is what I am doing, and you train full time.  It’s 5 days of practice and 2 lifting days. For those living at home, you have to find your own resources and training sites. They also have to find their own coaches and gyms. 

9. How did you get involved with sitting volleyball?

A referee asked me about my arm during a regular volleyball match. He asked to talk to parents and invited me to Virginia for the developmental program at USA volleyball. I honestly didn’t love it at first. It was hard. A lot different than standing and I was discouraged by it but I didn’t want to give up. I ended up going to another camp and was asked to attend the national camp. I thought it was a great opportunity and I couldn’t turn it down. 

10. What was the best part of your experience in Tokyo? What were you feeling throughout the process in Tokyo?

I was very nervous going in. We spoke with the sports psychologists a lot because I needed my head to be in the right spot before traveling. I had to know the role getting into.  As a serving specialist, I knew I was going to be put in a lot of stressful situations. Everyone at the Olympic Village was so nice, and. I loved living there. I was able to meet other Team USA athletes for a ton of different sports. Our venue was actually 30 minutes from the village,  so I got to see some of the city. 

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Emma Schieck, Sitting Volleyball Gold Medalist

"Just go for it. Dive right in. You never know what can happen"

Emma Scheick




Alyssa Callans is a native of Joliet, Illinois and is currently a graduate student at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. Callans played all four years of college at Maryville, playing as a pitcher and utility player. Just this season, Callans has pitched in 10 games, with two no-hitters and a perfect game! In her  55 innings pitched, she’s recorded 83 strikeouts, 18 walks, and a .75 ERA. She was named GLVC Softball Pitcher of the Week and the Wilson/NFCA Division II Softball Pitcher of the Week Award. 

1. Why did you decide to major in physical therapy? ​

My dad is a firefighter EMT, and my mom was an EMT but is now a nurse. I knew I wanted to be in the medical profession but I’m not sure how physical therapy came to be. I just really like the idea of working with athletes

2. What is your favorite thing about playing softball? ​

My favorite thing is the challenge. Each game I appreciate it more and how it pushes me to be more confident. Softball helps me embrace what is difficult and overcome it to help my teammates to reach their full potential. 

3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career and how did you overcome it?​

The biggest challenge is doing school and softball and trying to succeed maximally at both. It definitely has been hard, but just trying to find a balance between the two and being present and giving my all to both academics and softball.

4. What is your pregame routine?​

I like to go to church before games, eat a big breakfast because I don’t like eating between games (hotel eggs, peanut butter sandwich, and coffee) I don’t usually listen to music, I like silence. Not much of a routine, but be more content and get ready for the game.

5. What are you most looking forward to this season?​

I am most looking forward to everybody realizing and showing their full potential because we know we have so much talent, especially hitting-wise, but we don’t believe it yet. We should not settle for anything less. I’m looking forward to having fun this season overall.

6. How would you describe your experience throwing a no-hitter and a perfect game in the same weekend? ​

Honestly, the night after the no-hitter I kind of got nervous thinking ahead of the next day. How would I follow that up?  I was worried about messing it up. I kept the same mindset and kept it simple. Didn’t do too much, just threw pitches where they were supposed to be thrown and focussed on doing my part. It just worked out. I kept my mindset the same. My defense was behind me, handling the pressure of the game. They had my back behind me and made the plays they needed to make for the game. 

10 Questions With Alyssa Callans

7. What are you most proud of in your career thus far?​

Probably the weekend of the no-hitter and perfect game. This season I have done better in finishing games than I have in the past. It is something I have struggled with as a pitcher, having a good game then letting it go in the last few innings, being able to finish two full games strong, and then bringing that into other games since then is something I am proud of and hope to keep doing for the team. 

8. Who do you look up to?​

My dad. He has taught me how to believe in myself and to remain calm and to trust the process and always remember to give everything my all. He is a very influential guy, he’s not loud, but he has influenced me a lot in his quiet calmness and his kindness.

9. What advice do you have for young, aspiring college athletes? ​

Anything that’s worth doing is going to require your best and a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Once you achieve your goal, you have to keep working hard and apply yourself. Your future is worth all of your efforts. What you become is dependent on how much you invest in it. 

10. What is it like coming back to play this season as a graduate student, after having your senior season taken away due to the pandemic? ​

I feel like every day, I think how much easier life would be without softball right now, but then five seconds later I realize how grateful I am to have this opportunity to play another season. I feel like I wasn’t done when the season was over last year. I haven’t given everything I had yet to softball. I wasn’t ready to hang up my cleats just yet. I am just so grateful to be able to have the actual season and opportunity to hang up the cleats in a more positive way. And not only give what I have talent-wise, but also knowledge-wise. Especially towards the younger players and the freshman. It has always been one of my favorite things. Wanted to give what I could knowledge-wise and encourage the younger players. It has always been one of my favorite things as an upperclassman. I can’t imagine life without the sport…..

"Your future is worth all your efforts. What you become is dependent on how much you invest in it."

Alyssa Callans

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