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12/08/2021 11:00 PM

Szewc Enjoys a Nice Senior Season

Emma Szewc returned to the field for her senior season to finish her Yellowjackets’ career with a group of teammates whom she’s known for several years. Photo courtesy of Emma Szewc

Emma Szewc grew up with the sport of the soccer. Emma’s sister played soccer, her father was a coach, and her mother served on the board for East Haven’s Youth Soccer program.

Emma followed in her family’s footsteps by starting her own soccer career in East Haven. During her four years with the Yellowjackets, Emma battled through setbacks and continued to improve, becoming a key contributor for the varsity team in her senior season.

Emma began playing soccer in East Haven’s town league when she was three. Emma remembers watching her sister Ali play and wanting to be just like her. With her father Bryan and mother Jessica also getting involved, Emma was motivated to take soccer seriously.

“It just made it a lot more special to me. It was something that a good portion of my childhood revolved around. Either with me playing or my sister playing, it was always soccer,” Emma says. “I looked up to my sister a lot. It kept me motivated to keep playing.”

Emma played in the youth league through 8th grade, while also competing for Joseph Melillo Middle School in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. When she was 12, Emma and her teammates on the East Haven youth travel squad won the state championship.

Emma played all over the field throughout her time in the youth league. Once she got to high school, Emma found her full-time position in the midfield. Emma’s been a midfielder ever since and loves how playing that position allows her to patrol all ends of the pitch.

“It’s a hard position. You are working with everyone on the field,” Emma says. “You work your way up from the defensive line. You help deliver the ball to your forwards. You’re kind of everywhere, which is what I like about it. You’re not just in one place the entire time.”

Emma played for both the varsity and JV teams as a freshman, earning her varsity letter. Emma’s freshman season also marked the first time that she got to play with her sister Ali, who was a senior captain that year. Emma says that it nerve-wracking to go up against older competition, but with her sister by her side, her freshman year ended up being a success.

“At first, it was really terrifying. You go from playing people around your age to full-on adults. You can step on the field as a 14 year-old and be greeted by a bunch of 18 year-olds,” says Emma. “Me and my sister never got a chance to play together until freshman year. At first, it was scary, but I cherished that season, because I got to play with her. My freshman year experience was really good.”

After making the full-time jump to varsity in her sophomore year, Emma missed her entire junior season. Once she returned as a senior, it took some time for Emma to get back up to speed. As she was transitioning back into game shape, Emma’s teammates were supportive and encouraging her at every step along the way.

“My team greeted me with open arms, and I was really happy about that,” Emma says. “I was relieved I could have one more season with a lot of the people I have been playing with since I was a kid.”

Emma made valuable contributions as a sub in her senior season, while also getting a couple of starts for the Yellowjackets. Emma’s confidence grew throughout the year as she learned about what it means to truly play as a team.

“Confidence-wise I’ve gotten a lot better. Since freshman year, I’ve gotten more confident in communicating and playing with others,” says Emma. “I’ve realized that it’s important to remember you’re not the only one on the field. Your decisions affect everyone.”

Head Coach Jake Hackett says that Emma has always done what’s necessary to help the Easties succeed during her four years with the team. Regardless of whether Emma was on the field, Coach Hackett constantly saw her putting in her best effort to help the program improve as a whole.

“Emma has been a contributor to this program all four years with us. Even the year she didn’t play, she remained close to the program. Emma has always put in a great work rate during training and gives her all in games,” Hackett says. “Emma is a team-first player who shows great care for her teammates and will do whatever is needed to help her team be the best it could be. Every coach would love to have an Emma in their program.”

Emma feels grateful for her experiences as a soccer player at all levels in East Haven. Emma appreciates that she’s been able to represent her town by competing alongside the same group of teammates year after year.

“I’m just really glad that I’ve had this experience, especially since the majority of our team has stayed together for this long,” says Emma. “We experienced winning a State Cup and going through the high school transition together. Out of all the teams I could have played for, I’m really glad it was this specific team I got to grow up with.”