by Alexa Schmidt, A&E Editor
Originally from Ottawa, Illinois, senior basketball player Emma Bedeker was surprised with a full scholarship for her last semester at Manhattan College. The Women’s Basketball team posted a video of the celebration of the news on their Instagram that soon went viral. While Bedeker has endured many injuries, she has dedicated herself to being a leader on and off the court. As a finance and economics major, she is currently applying for sports management programs at Columbia, Georgetown and Boston College, and hopes to hear back soon. The Quadrangle had the chance to sit down with Bedeker and hear about her experiences at MC.
So how long have you been playing basketball?
I’ve been playing basketball since I was about 10-years-old; so like, fifth or sixth grade. So obviously I played throughout high school, college, played travel basketball, and then I ended up here at Manhattan college four years ago. So it’s been an amazing experience.
What made you start playing the sport?
My dad actually played basketball in college at Northern Illinois. My dad and I are super close. And so that was kind of how we started to bond with sports and then I just kind of fell in love with it and the rest is history.
What made you decide to come to Manhattan College?
Long story short my intention always was to play basketball in college, but I got a bunch of injuries. At the end of my senior year, I had a stress fracture in my back but I was like, you know what, ‘I’m just going to go to college’. When I graduated high school in May , I was already enrolled in Michigan State, had my roommate, we were going to join a sorority, and then it just hit me. I had never gone more than like two weeks without playing basketball and it had been three months. I was like, ‘Oh my god’,I can’t imagine going to college without it [basketball], especially because all my high school friends are playing in college. So I honestly just started reaching out to coaches all over. I’ve always loved the East Coast and New York. So I reached out to Heather Vulin, our head coach, and actually she just gotten hired at the end of May, so I just kept emailing her and finally she invited me out for a little tryout. I came here and I instantly just fell in love, specifically with the proximity to New York City as well as the campus and the coaches. It was just a real connection. I instantly just knew I could see myself here. She offered me a preferred walk-on spot. She gave me a couple of weeks to think about it. Two weeks prior to that I didn’t even know this place existed. I told my parents and I’ve always been very independent, and my parents have always supported me. And then thankfully, I don’t have one bad thing to say about my four years as it’s been absolutely amazing.
Did you walk into this season with any goals for yourself and your teammates? Obviously one of our main goals as a team is to be MAAC Champions. We definitely have all the pieces to the puzzle. For myself, actually, last year, I had my second major concussion in college. So I just had so many issues from that, that my doctors actually advised me not to do contact this year. My goal for myself, knowing that I wasn’t going to be playing, was just focusing on being a leader, primarily on the court, but also off the court as well. So definitely the two major goals were to be MAAC champions and to just really step into a stronger leadership role.
And how do you feel about the team’s performance to date?
This is probably the best we’ve done in my four years here. We definitely have had our ups and downs. But with that being said, we are slowly coming together. All of our games have been extremely close, so I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction. And we have incredible team chemistry so that’s not an issue whatsoever. I truthfully think we have a very strong chance of winning.
And what has been your favorite memory?
Personally, I think my favorite memory was when I got offered my scholarship because I was so shocked. But as a team, I honestly have to say I’ve had so many good ones. But to date my sophomore year we went out to Cal Berkeley for Thanksgiving tournament, and it was probably the most fun. It was totally different and we played at such a nice school and great arena. That probably sticks out in my mind, but we’ve had so many great close wins and comebacks. Yeah, too many to name but those are probably the top two.
Do you guys have any pre-game rituals that are superstitious?
As a team, we always have the same warm up. After our pregame talk, we always pray, being in a Lasallian school. Also we always watch a highlight video from the game before so that kind of gets everyone pumped up.
You’ve faced multiple injuries. So how have you faced those disappointing times?
Coming into my freshman year, I knew as a freshman I probably was not going to play, but literally right away in October, I broke my nose and I got a concussion. I was out for a few months and that definitely was hard as a freshman to be missing class. Once again, I have great teammates so the transition was so easy. Sophomore year I came back and then junior year I thought that was the year I would finally get a few minutes. I was super excited for junior year so when the concussion happened it definitely was so hard especially because I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. And then I had symptoms until like last Spring. I’m a very outgoing person and I didn’t want to do anything. After going through all that and the struggles in the classroom and talking with doctors, I was like, it’s just not worth it. Through it all, having such incredible teammates and a coaching staff always asking how I was, really made me feel cared about and it was no question in my mind for my senior year that I still wanted to be part of the team in one way or another.
A lot of your teammates and coaches have described you as the heart and soul of the team, so how does that make you feel? What do you attribute that to?
That makes me feel great. I love them all. Truthfully, that’s what I try to bring. I am a very, outgoing positive person. I’m realistic, sometimes we are doing bad or things aren’t going well, but I really try and focus on always bringing energy and positivity. Especially for our underclassmen, I know my first two years, even though I had the time of my life, I just remember exhaustion. I feel like I know what they’re going through. I’m just so used to it now that I try and be there for them on and off the court.
You were surprised with a full scholarship this semester. Can you describe those emotions?
Coming in as a walk on, that was always my goal. But obviously the way things worked out, after my junior year, I was like ‘okay no, that definitely is not going to happen at all’. Obviously, I still wanted to stay on the team. That day we had normal practice. I didn’t think anything of it. And our coach started describing this one player and we had already gone through the entire scouting report so I was like, ‘this is a little weird’. And then she said my name. Everyone was like, you didn’t even seem fazed. First of all, I didn’t even see my picture pop up. But then, second of all, I was just, I honestly had no emotion at that moment, just because I was so completely blindsided. I literally just kind of had no emotion. But obviously, a couple hours later, I was like, ‘Oh my god’. I’m just so thankful to my coaches because I just feel like it shows that they have seen all the hard work I’ve put in and how I do try and be a good teammate. So while I wasn’t able to play basketball physically on the court, I feel like I’ve brought as much as I can in other areas. To give me that, I mean, I’m so thankful for them, the Athletic Department, Marianne [Reilly], and everyone. It definitely was like the cherry on top.