Sports Person of the Week
Liedke Secures Starting Spot as a Sophomore
Emma Liedke solidified her spot as a starting middle blocker for the North Haven girls’ volleyball squad as a sophomore this fall. (Photo courtesy of Emma Liedke )
After playing basketball in the town’s travel league for three years, Emma Liedke wanted to test her skills on another court as a freshman at North Haven High School. So, she signed up to compete for the girls’ volleyball team last fall. In the year that’s passed, Emma has not only become a starting varsity player for North Haven, she’s also found a sport that she wants to play beyond high school.
Emma spent her freshman season playing for North Haven’s JV team. While it was nerve-racking at first, Emma found that her first foray into volleyball showed her how hard she needed to train in order to reach the varsity level. Now a sophomore, Emma has earned her spot as starting middle blocker on the varsity squad after working hard throughout a long offseason.
“Getting ready for a varsity season was a little discouraging with the virus going on. We weren’t able to do much. It left me to find things at home that I can work on with myself,” Emma says. “I worked on ball control and getting in the best physical shape I could. I took runs every day. I wanted to make sure that when this season did come, I was in good shape, and I had my basic skill level to show my coaches the potential I had.”
Head Coach Brianna Kleckner first met Emma at the middle school a few years ago. Kleckner knew that Emma played basketball and saw how tall she was, so she encouraged her to pursue volleyball, too. While this is only Emma’s second season playing volleyball, Kleckner says that Emma continues to get better every time she takes the floor and has become a key member of this year’s team.
“Emma is truly an awesome kid. When she comes to practice, she is always putting in her best effort, because she wants to get better. Not just for herself. She wants to better her teammates,” says Kleckner. “All around, Emma is a positive energy, and her teammates always respond to it. We’re very grateful that she pursued volleyball despite being nervous and never playing before. She has done a phenomenal job. We are very grateful to have her.”
Emma, who stands 5-foot-10, says that playing two sports during her freshman year helped her gain an understanding of what’s required of a student-athlete. Emma also feels that much of what she’s learned as a center in basketball has helped her fare well in her role as a middle blocker on the volleyball court.
“In both sports, taking direction and applying it is really important. With my position in basketball and volleyball, your team depends on you to clean up and get the points when you really need them,” Emma says. “It helped me as a player to really perform and use what the coaches were giving me. It helped me in volleyball this year, being new to varsity and needing to work a lot. Being able to take direction in both sports has helped me grow tremendously already.”
Even though Emma didn’t play volleyball until her freshman year, she still had some experience in the sport on a recreational basis through the matches that her family often played on Sundays. Emma’s mother Andrea played in those matches when she was in high school. As she prepared for her sophomore season, Emma worked with her mom on becoming a stronger all-around volleyball player, specifically her serve.
“My mom has always been a supportive person. She plays a big role in my life. As soon as I started playing volleyball, it obviously had a sentimental spot in her heart,” says Emma. “When I started playing volleyball, she was very supportive. She wanted to do anything she could to help me. She’s always there for me after a bad game. She has always pushed me to always do my best, and it’s never as bad as I think it is.”
Going forward, Emma wants to continue improving her vertical skills, while becoming more versatile player on the court. While she’s only a sophomore, Emma is already thinking about the possibility of playing volleyball in college. Emma feels proud of what she’s accomplished as a volleyball player thus far, and the best part for her is that she’s done so alongside a great group of North Haven teammates.
“Wearing the jersey and wearing anything North Haven volleyball related really means a lot to me. I love showing that that’s a part of my life,” Emma says. “We go out there and give our all and do what we can to be a team that other teams can look up to and girls that other girls in the school can look up to. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”