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Local Sports Hero

01 August 2015 Written by  By Michelle Lassle
Published in July 2015 Articles

Emma Marquez displayed a natural talent for the arts beginning at a young age.

At the age of five Emma enrolled in violin lessons, followed by piano lessons a year later which was recommended to help improve her violin technique. She later studied violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music after auditioning and perfected her instrument there for four years. Once she entered Bristow Middle School Emma became intrigued with the idea of playing in the jazz band, but the two instruments she currently practiced weren’t appropriate. So Emma decided to add trumpet to her list, teaching herself by ear. “I made it into the jazz band as one of 20 students,” Emma said. “I got to play first chair.” Emma was also selected as one of only three Brentwood students to be a part of the honors band. With her freshman year at Heritage High School just beginning, Emma plans to audition for the jazz band and hopes to have time in her schedule to include orchestra.

In addition to her busy music schedule, Emma has also not simply been involved in but thrived in multiple sports. After chasing down the ice cream man instead of racing toward the soccer ball, Emma’s parents realized that soccer was not her favorite activity. Since she was already at the Community Youth Center in Concord for her brother’s wrestling practice a couple times per week, Emma decided that she would prefer to keep herself busy while waiting. “I was pretty bored while my brother was doing his practice, so I decided to try the CYC gymnastics team,” Emma said. Emma competed in all four events: beam, vault, floor, and bars. She said that she did best in vault and bars. A month into gymnastics the competitive coach approached Emma’s mother and expressed an interest in testing her for his team based on her natural talent. After placing her on the pre-team the same coach spoke with Emma’s mother again, explaining that her kind of talent really needed to be on a competitive team. It turns out that he was right. In her first season Emma was ranked 4th in the state, always earning a spot on the podium. “People kept coming up to me and asking how long Emma had been competing,” Emma’s mother, Sandra said. “It was almost like a joke that it was her first year.”

After two years in Concord, Emma switched to Black Diamond Kids Center. Her first year there she was 1st in the state; however, Emma was beginning to feel the pain that gymnastics was causing her body. “Emma is incredibly tolerant of pain, so when she was constantly icing her knee and other body parts, I knew it had to be bad,” Sandra said. Emma had always expressed an interest in running but being involved in even one more activity was unrealistic. When her parents sat her down to let her know that she needed to choose one sport to focus on, Emma chose track. “I knew I wanted to letter in something in high school, and wanted to do track for three years,” Emma said. “So I decided to leave gymnastics and finally run.”

Emma joined the Bristow track team in her 8th grade year, participating in the 100, 200, 1x1, and 4x4. “My favorite is the 100,” Emma said. “My fastest time is 13.1, but my goal is to get below 13 seconds.” Emma was the anchor for her relay team, which was the spot she preferred. “I trust myself the most to catch us up if we’re behind.” She took 2nd place in the league for the 100 and 1st place for the 200. She is currently ranked 8th in state. While at Freedom High School for a track meet, the Heritage boys’ team was warming up nearby and noticed Emma running. They asked her mother if Emma was in high school yet and told her to come back the next day because she needed to meet their coach. So they did just that, and Emma has been practicing and learning technique from them ever since.

The most amazing part of Emma’s musical and athletic involvement is that she is dangerously asthmatic. She has two inhalers that she takes daily and has even been hospitalized because of her trouble breathing. “I know it sounds cliché, but one day I asked Emma why she wanted to run so badly when it could cost her her health,” Sandra said. “She said to me, ‘I’d rather die running than be alive and not do it.’ That really hit me.” Thankfully part of her training with the high school coaches is focused on proper breathing techniques so that Emma doesn’t have to struggle so much to get oxygen while running.

School doesn’t seem to be a problem for Emma, earning all A’s at Bristow, so she’s not worried about a higher level of academics. The part about high school that she is most excited about is meeting new people. “I’m excited to find other serious female athletes,” Emma said. “I hope to make it onto the varsity track team.” Her dream for the future is to take her track career all the way to college, possibly earning a scholarship.

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