By Merrie Sue Holtan
Photography by Thru Him Photography
Driving the long gravel road, moving deeper into quiet, into the country, what will be waiting? This country road takes you home, home to a Garfield family who well, simply put, loves the outdoors and the “toys” that go with it. Four wheelers, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, fishing poles, ice houses, deer hunting equipment, it’s all there. Three sisters, who fight over each other’s clothes on occasion and have scars on their knees from four-wheeling, learned gun safety when they were twelve so they could deer hunt with their dad. They also possess a rather large collection of softballs, volleyballs and basketballs.
“Being in the outdoors binds us as a family,” says middle sister, Emily (Emma) Friedrich, a three- sport athlete at Brandon-Evansville High School, “But varsity sports also bind us.”
Older sister Megan, 20, who now studies Medical Administration Assisting at Bismarck State College in North Dakota, played volleyball, basketball and ran track (at the state level), while younger sister, Lizzy, 15, plays volleyball, basketball and softball.
The three sister student-athletes learned the B-E High School mantra and motto: “Being in CHARGE.” Administration, faculty and staff ask students to demonstrate this by being Courageous, Honest, Accountable, Respectful, Gracious, and Excellent in everything they say and do.
In the words of English teacher and head Charger softball coach, Kasi Huschle, no one better suits their motto than new graduate Emma Friedrich. Emma has had some kind of ball in her hand since kindergarten, when she began summer recreation T-Ball. She began playing recreational basketball in fifth grade and started volleyball as a seventh grader.
“Emma is a phenomenal all-around student athlete,” Kasi says. “She excels in everything she does and really pushes herself to constantly improve. She is one of the strongest hitters in the area and an excellent short stop. She puts the team above herself at all time and was a great senior leader and captain for us.”
This season the B-E softball team went 17-4, and was defeated by Pillager in the post season playoffs. Emma ended the season and postseason with a .539 batting average, achieved all conference for three years, and this year made the Academic All State Softball Team and was All State Honorable Mention.
“I enjoyed my position as short stop,” Emma says. “It doesn’t hold me to just one base, I can play between bases. I like that freedom.”
In the classroom, Emma has a 3.984 grade point average, and she gravitates naturally to the sciences. She shadowed health-care professionals during her high school years, and this fall will attend Concordia College in Moorhead, where she received a Presidential Scholarship, to major in Healthcare Administration. She will also become a Cobber volleyball player.
“Volleyball is my favorite sport,” she says. “It comes the most naturally for me, and I have a decent vertical.”
At 5’7”, Emma, a captain, played the middle hitter spot for B-E and smiles when she says, “We had a pretty short team.” She received an All Little 8 Conference pick the past two years and ended her season with 351 kills, 25 solo blocks and 306 digs. The Charger team placed second in the conference with and 8-2 record and won the conference in 2013-14 with a 9-1 record. This season she was named the Little 8 Conference Most Valuable Player.
“Besides her drive to be good on the court, Emma gave of her time to help younger kids learn volleyball,” says B-E head volleyball coach, Kelly Olson. “As a team she helped us visit the nursing home once a week and promoted giving back to the community. She never said ‘no’ in all the years I asked her to help organize something. I could always count on her to ask me the tough questions and tell the truth when I asked in return. Emma is a once-in-a-lifetime player to coach.”
In college, Emma looks forward to learning more sophisticated volleyball strategy and plays, working with new coaches, and being with highly motivated college players who will push her to be better.
“I realize I will have to earn a spot on the team,” she says. “I’m excited to meet new and different people in college and maybe study abroad someday.”
“Emma has tremendous athleticism,” says Tim Mosser, head Cobber volleyball coach. “She is an explosive hitter who will just get better with time and reps. She is eager to learn new techniques and works hard to apply them to her game. Very coachable.”
Mom Lisa also says she looks forward to seeing what Emma can do at Concordia and how it will change her game and develop her life as a student athlete.
In Charger basketball, Emma played taller than she seems at the post position, was the leading scorer and rebounder for the team, and has been all conference for three years, and most valuable player this season. She played for veteran coach Dick Simpson, who has coached at B-E for over 30 years.
“Emma is a great jumper, positions well and is quick off her feet,” Dick says. “I think it surprises taller players that she can go up and over them. She’s a quiet leader, leading by example, is a hard worker and consistent. She hasn’t missed a practice in three years. That’s about 140-150 practices. We will miss her.”
Leadership and Family
Emma finds her sports leadership carries over into school activities, and this year she has served as president of the student council. She says she is the type of leader who listens and who likes to receive input from others. As a junior she achieved the EXCEL Award from the Minnesota State High School League for excellence in activities, community service, and academics. She has also been on the Academic All State Basketball Team.
“I’m a pretty driven person,” she says,” and “I like to always be doing something.”
As a leader in Business and Professionals of America, Emily received an Ambassador (national) Torch award and won a five-day trip to Anaheim, California, She has also been in band, has been a two-year member of the National Honor Society, class treasurer and valedictorian.
“I believe a leader, like an athlete, has to be dedicated, work hard, be caring, and have confidence,” Emma says. “If I’m nervous about a game or situation, I talk to teammates and play through it.”
Emma believes her competitive spirt comes mostly from her dad, Joe, who played football, hockey and baseball for Glenwood High School. Her mom, Lisa played junior high volleyball and basketball in Blaine near the Twin Cities.
“I’ve never been close to quitting any sport,” Emma says, smiling, “but if I run into a problem, my parents tell me to take it in stride (basically suck it up).”
In the summers, Emma has cooked and waitressed at a local restaurant and will waitress this summer at a resort on Lake Miltona. Of course she will spend time outdoors, on the water, fishing and tubing, plus running her college volleyball weight training and endurance program.
Emma has started to prep her college “planner book” and think about how to balance her life around college classes and volleyball. The landscape of her life thus far has taken her on a journey to and from her quiet gravel road. She spoke of this journey in her graduation valedictorian speech by citing the class motto: “If we can’t find the road to success, we will make one.”