CLARKSBURG — Anyone that has watched Emma McKeen play sports at Notre Dame High School knows that backing down from the competition is nowhere in her makeup.
Her hustling, hard-nosed play is an inspiration to her teammates and coaches alike.
But McKeen is more than just an athlete who tries hard.
She’s one who gives it her all at everything she does.
Taking classes such as college algebra through WVU, honors physics and college English at the Fairmont State’s Caperton Center, her 4.3 GPA would attest to that.
“This past semester, I didn’t have a lot of classes, but the ones I have are quite challenging,” McKeen said. “We always have to take a religion class and this semester, I’m taking a personal finance class which is a good thing.
“So combined with those upper classes, it’s been enough to keep me real busy.”
As the daughter of a school principal (Lincoln’s Russ McKeen) and a Notre Dame physics teacher (Dr. Angela McKeen), Emma knows she has a standard to live up to.
“It’s not like my dad’s here every day to check up on me, but my mom is a teacher here, and has taught me in physics class,” McKeen said. “A lot of people ask me about it, but it really doesn’t bother me. I know what’s expected and what I expect of myself.”
Her sports schedule would be enough for many students, but it’s a labor of love for the Irish senior.
McKeen has been a four-year starter for the school’s co-ed soccer team, a starter for the Irish girls basketball team and an all-conference shortstop for the softball team.
“I haven’t played against girls in soccer since I started middle school,” said McKeen, a defensive midfielder in her soccer days. “Soccer is my favorite sport, and playing against boys has made be a better player.”
While soccer might be her favorite sport, she admitted it wasn’t her best.
“No, softball is definitely my best sport,” McKeen said. “I enjoy softball, too, and it’s been really neat and exciting to watch our program grow the past few years.
“I’m really excited for what we have coming back this spring. Softball should be really fun.”
But for now, she’s concentrating on basketball, and the Fighting Irish are currently off to one of the best starts in school history at 5-0.
That includes wins over Class A powers Tucker County and Trinity and a win over Big 10 Conference power Lewis County.
“The chemistry on this team right now is so good,” McKeen said. “It’s really great to be a team captain with Taylor (Martino) and Amelia (Angotti). All of us like each other and the girls really work well together and there’s no drama.
“Hopefully, we can keep this up.”
McKeen has been busy in other aspects of her life at NDHS.
“I was president of the junior class last year, and vice president during my sophomore and freshman years,” McKeen said. “I’m a member of the National Honor Society, too.
“Right now, I’m looking for a 4-H Club to join. We used to have one here at Notre Dame, but didn’t have enough kids to keep it going and I really miss it.”
With her senior year nearly half over, McKeen knows college is just around the corner.
“I’ve applied to UNC (North Carolina) and am waiting to hear back from them,” said McKeen, who also serves as an altar server at the Immaculate Conception Church. “So I’m still undecided where I’m going but I do know that I want to major in psychology and minor in exercise science.
“My goal is to become a sports psychologist.”
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 304-626-1406 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Greg on Twitter @gtalkington1