The jam-packed, crazy schedule of a Norwich three-sport athlete.
BY DEREK DUNNING
The Norwich Record | Summer 2018
Three-sport athletes are increasingly rare in high school. Which makes Emily Oliver ’19, a Norwich legacy and collegiate three-sport athlete, all the more exceptional.
For 10 out of 12 months each year for the past three years, the Sagamore Hills, Ohio, native has hustled on the court and diamond as a setter, guard, and pitcher/first-basewoman for the NU women’s volleyball, basketball, and softball teams.
The mechanical engineering major has also proved that she’s got game in the classroom. Oliver carries a 3.91 GPA, works as a peer tutor, and serves on the Honor Committee, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Society.
As a research assistant, she has collaborated with faculty mentor Prof. Karen Supan on a research project involving a thermogravimetric analysis of corn stover as a potential biofuel. Supan says Oliver “is one of the most diligent students I have had during my time at Norwich.”
Head basketball coach Mark Zacher also praises Oliver, singling out her ability to teach and lead teammates. “Emily is one of the quickest thinking and brightest players that I have ever had the opportunity to work with or to coach,” he says. “Oftentimes, [it’s] like having an additional assistant coach.”
Fellow volleyball player Marissa Perrotti ’20 describes Oliver as an “amazing teammate” on and off the court.
Before she arrived at Norwich, Oliver planned to play one—and only one—sport: basketball. But shortly before her freshman year started, Oliver fielded an email from Cadets volleyball coach Ashlynn Nuckols asking the former high school starter if she’d like to play for Norwich. “I originally said, ‘We’ll see.’ But during freshman orientation, I was so homesick...I...asked to play on the team.”
Her three-sport future was sealed when basketball teammate Naomi Rinaldo ’19 convinced her to play softball after seeing Oliver pitch. “I texted my parents to send out my softball gear.”
Playing one college sport, let alone three, is a staggering time commitment. Oliver notes that a single home game consumes six hours of her day and an away game twice that. “I made a commitment to myself that I can’t sleep on the bus, and I have to do homework.”
She smiles when she reflects on her freshman-year decision to play three sports at Norwich. “It definitely wasn’t the plan,” Oliver says. “I was ... excited that I was going to have time to do study and be free—and then I didn’t. But I’m having so much fun [now], I’m glad I decided to play all three.”
Oliver knew that managing her time and the expectations of coaches, professors, and herself would help her succeed as a student-athlete.
“I’m very realistic and up front about what I can and can’t do,” Oliver says. “I know my limits, and there are only 24 hours in a day. I’m always in season. So I get used to it. I treat sports almost like another class.”
A big challenge is juggling time to spend with her fellow athletes from all three sports. “It’s like having three different families,” Oliver says.
Oliver’s self-discipline will serve her well as she pursues her future career plans. She is interning over the summer with Metro Health in Ohio, which is associated with Case Western Reserve University—her top choice for medical school.
Photo by Mark Collier