Coming into the season, Emma Kulow wasn't expecting to be a key scorer for Western Albemarle. But after the Warriors lost their top two players to season-ending injuries, Kulow took on a bigger role.
"With the injuries we had we needed Emma to step up into a bigger scoring role and she was one of our leading scorers on the season," Western coach Kris Wright explained.
"When I realized I had to take on a leadership role, one of my primary goals was to keep the team positive," Kulow added. "With the injuries, the team could have gotten down on itself and started pointing fingers and I didn't want that to happen."
She kept the team's spirits high by becoming more of a vocal leader than she had been in the past -- and in the process, learned a thing or two about herself.
"I definitely think my confidence improved a lot, because it had to, to lead by example," she explained.
While she was pushing herself on the court, Kulow also faced a new challenge in the classroom. This past fall she took an environmental policy course at the University of Virginia, providing a nice jumpstart on a subject she'd like to study in the future.
"I thought, 'Why not branch out and really start to focus on what I'm interested in?' she said. "It was a lot of work, but I still consider it an invaluable experience."
"In coaching Emma for three years, I've known that she's been very involved and does a lot of academic stuff but even when I look at the list of things I'm impressed by it," Wright added. "(She's) involved in so many things, does community service, works on the side, took a class at UVa, and still finds time to play a sport at the varsity level. So to do all those things, and do them as well as she does, is really a testament to who she is."
A bigger role on the team and a heavy classload may seem like a lot of pressure for a high school senior. But Kulow says she had a way of dealing with that.
"There's a quote that really helped me which is 'The only pressure you feel is pressure you put on yourself.' And so whenever I really started to get down on myself I realized it was coming from me. And it definitely helped me moving forward."