Emma Schriner was just 13 years old when college volleyball coaches started scouting her to play for their teams. Now, four years later, the Jamestown High School senior has taken top marks, propelling her toward the game of a lifetime.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association named Emma as a member of the 12th annual Under Armour First Team All-America on Nov. 1. Just 24 high schoolers from across the country received the high honor.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Emma said. “When I first started out playing volleyball I was this really tall, awkward middle schooler. It wasn’t until I came to Jamestown … that I really improved.”
Emma gave credit for her success to her parents, coach, and the players who helped her grow over the years.
“I was surrounded by a bunch of girls who were better than me,” Emma said. “So I always had people to look up to. I think that’s what really helped me be a strong player.”
Emma’s father Loren Schriner said his daughter took up the sport on a whim.
“You never force your kids to go down a certain path,” Loren Schriner said. “Emma took volleyball up as a ‘hey I’m gonna see if I’m gonna like it’ sorta thing.”
And Emma did like it. Two years after her start at the age of 11, she progressed to the point that coaches were scouting her as a player starting in the eighth grade, according to Schriner.
“She definitely has her goals set,” Loren Schriner said. “It’s really gratifying to see her achieve those things. We’re very proud of her.”
But her dad says Emma can’t take all the credit for her success.
Emma’s coach and family have been there every step of the way to help her grow.
Veteran Jamestown High School volleyball coach Tom Stephenson has helped her excel as an outside hitter on the team.
“We have a good team, and a good group of players on this team,” Stephenson said. “But she has been a big part of our success this year.”
But for Emma, volleyball is more than a hobby or a sport, it’s a way of life handed down by her family.
Emma’s mother Barbara played volleyball in college, and Emma’s older sister Sarah played the sport as well.
Beyond that, there was her family’s dedication to her passion, a dedication which would lead to several 13 hour car rides to Orlando, Florida and a few 10-hour car rides to Louisville, Kentucky, according to Loren Schriner.
The family’s Toyota Sequoia racked up thousands of extra miles while hauling as many as six people and their luggage. Convoys of four to five volleyball family vehicles drove hours on the road to make sure their daughters made it to every game.
But as Emma looks to finish up high school, the investment is worth it, Loren Schriner said. Emma has committed to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to play volleyball.
“She’s got a great opportunity to go to Tennessee, get an education, and play a sport that she loves,” Loren Schriner said. “We feel very very fortunate.”
The Under Armour All-America award is a crowning moment for Emma — the only Virginian to earn the highest award in 2017. Only one other Virginian earned any acclaim: an honourable mention.
Stephenson said while Emma plays at the top of her class currently, he’s excited to see how she progresses as a player in Tennessee.
“I’ve had some really good players, and Emma is certainly in the top three or four players that I’ve ever had in 21 years of coaching,” Stephenson said. “She’s right up there, I think she’s going to have a great career at Tennessee.”