Sept. 24, 2003
The numbers on the back of Ohio State's Emily Haynam's jersey may be double-zero, but that's no way to describe this two-sport athlete. The senior competes in both soccer and basketball for the Buckeyes, while also finding time to earn an induction into the Ohio State Journalism Honors Society.
Her busy athletic schedule gives the Columbus native a unique experience, "I get to experience two great teams, two very different teams, and two fantastic college atmospheres," she says. "I mean, it doesn't get much better than being an athlete at Ohio State and some of the environments you get to play in."
Emily didn't always plan on being on being a student-athlete-athlete. After earning 12 varsity letters in high school (basketball, soccer, and track), she went to Ohio State on a basketball scholarship and played for two years before the idea even crossed her mind. However, after a slightly disappointing freshman season where Ohio State missed the qualifying for the NCAA tournament, and when the head coach was let go after her second season, Emily felt it was time for a change.
"At that point I was just trying to go back to my roots and find something fun. And one of the things I had done was been a multi-sport athlete."
She inquired within the athletic department, put a call in to soccer coach Lori Walker, and joined the team as a goalkeeper in the spring of 2002.
What a break for the Buckeye soccer squad. All Emily did in her first year on the team was help lead Ohio State to the 2002 Big Ten Conference tournament title. A feat, which she says, is her most memorable OSU athletic moment.
"We went through two shootouts and had a couple of big saves in each shootout and our team really came together. Nobody expected us to win that tournament but ourselves. And then to do that and get our first ever bid, for the Ohio State program, to NCAAs was a great thing."
Emily recorded a stingy 1.00 goals against average in the Buckeyes' tournament run and was named to the All-Big Ten tournament team. At the end of the season, the soccer team dubbed her the year's most improved player.
The athletic senior has also been an important member of the women's basketball team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. The Buckeyes also had a nice run in the Big Ten tournament, making it to the championship game. That means Ohio State's 'double-zero' (#00 in soccer, #45 in basketball) played in two Big Ten tournament championship games during the 2002-03 school year.
With each of her teams' successes on the field and on the hard-wood, don't ask Emily to pick a favorite sport.
"Both of them can be a different adrenaline rush. In one of them I get to score and then go back out, and it's a constant battle in basketball. I get to play defense, play offense, I get the whole thing. In soccer, it's a separate game I'm playing compared to what the rest of the team is doing. It's just fun. It's an adrenaline rush to stuff somebody who thinks they're about to score on you."
So what's more difficult then, hitting a tough shot in basketball, or stopping one in the soccer goal?
"Stopping shots is difficult because you've got a girl, who most of the time is trying to kick the ball as hard as she can at you. And sometimes it's not always going right at you, you've got to make an effort to go after it."
Playing two sports does have its price. Last year Emily had exactly one week between the start of the basketball season and the end of soccer. Keep an eye on the calendar this year as basketball practice starts October 18th, and the Big Ten soccer tournament begins November 6th.
One other disadvantage of participating in two sports is that it means a lot of time away from her family, and sometimes she has to miss out on gatherings for events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, Emily says, it's just all how you look at it.
"I'm a person that loves what I do." So while she may not have the free time of a typical college student, Emily has no regrets. "I don't look at it so much as a sacrifice, but something that I get to do that most people don't."
During her busiest time of the year, Emily has to find a good balance between the two sports. On a typical day, when the seasons overlap, Emily is committed to soccer from about 8:30 a.m. until around noon. Then, the dedicated senior heads to basketball practice. She'll attend sessions for about an hour where she goes through the process of learning the plays with the team, "to make the transition that much quicker." Class in the afternoon or at night rounds out Emily's jam-packed day.
Her student life at Ohio State also keeps Emily on her toes. As a part of the journalism course requirements, Emily interns in-- you guessed it-- the sports department at the local newspaper. She did her heaviest work load for the paper through a class over the summer, and now has a plan worked out with her teacher where she writes about one article per week and then undertakes many editing responsibilities. Her successes in the classroom have equaled those on the field. Emily has been recognized three times as an OSU Scholar-Athlete, and once as Academic All-Big Ten.
Somewhere in that schedule, she finds time to relax and study. As a senior, Emily knows how to stay on top of her schedule. For example, on road games, she takes advantage of quality time on the bus to get ahead of her reading. In Emily's case, free time is usually the result of more hard work and discipline.
"You have to find it. You have to be able to say 'no' to people; I have to be able to come home and get things done tonight, so I have free time during this time tomorrow."
Upon earning her degree, Emily plans to attend graduate school for broadcasting. Perhaps we'll see her on TV in the near future as a color commentator or on "something like ESPN."
After two varsity sports at Ohio State and an impressive academic record, could there be anything left for Emily Haynam to conquer?
"If I wasn't an athlete, I'd be a singer. If I could sing, I'd be a singer. A country singer."
Don't put it past her.