- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
When Emma King was in the fifth grade, she told her father that she wanted to play basketball for the University of Kentucky.
That dream came true — and this weekend, another came true as she became an unlikely SEC champion when her Wildcat squad knocked off the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (the Cats’ fourth win in four days) to take home the school’s second-ever conference tournament trophy.
But during every spare moment of downtime during that SEC tourney run, King, a junior from Stanford, Ky., had schoolwork to do. As a Human Health Sciences major, she said she had to study for a neuroscience test that she was missing.
It’s the balance she has to maintain: Work for her sport, and work for her major.
But it’s all worth it when she’s able to be a part of moments like Sunday’s historic win.
“It’s just been a whirlwind, the amount of love and support and people who are just congratulating us,” she said a few days after the game. “I keep joking with people — I can't tell you how many times somebody has come up to me and called me ‘Champ.’”
It’s well-deserved. The UK women’s team hadn’t brought home an SEC Tournament title trophy in 40 years. But when Dre’una Edwards’ three-pointer splashed through the net with just under 5 seconds to play and gave the Wildcats the victory, it set off a massive celebration — one that really hasn’t stopped yet.
But there are still more projects and tests, as well as practices that start at 7 a.m. Luckily, we were able to catch up with King during a study break, before everything gets crazy once again. This Sunday, the Wildcats will find out where they are headed in the NCAA Tournament — and more memories will likely be made.
Here’s 5 questions with … UK women’s basketball player Emma King:
It was funny — (men’s basketball) Coach (John Calipari) was so kind — he treated our team to Jeff Ruby’s (Steakhouse) on Monday when we got back. They asked if we wanted to watch anything in there on the TV — we were like, ‘Yeah, turn on the game!’ So, we watched the (SEC Championship) game all over again while we were there eating and it just doesn't get old, especially that fourth quarter. That shot will go down in history. Everybody was so happy, I will never forget it.
Our coaches do a really great job of checking on our mental health. And we lean on each other, that’s what makes this so much sweeter. At one point, (All-American) Rhyne Howard looked at all of us and asked us if we were having fun, and every player said no. So, we had to work on that. Our coaches never gave up on us.
Personally, I consider myself a very religious person, so that is something that I have just always found so much comfort in, and our team as a whole — we pray before every practice and that's just something we all have in common. But one thing that I think is overlooked sometimes is that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to ask for help and that's something that I’ve even learned here recently just going through a few things in my personal life. The people around you care about you and want to be there for you.
I’ve actually always wanted to do something medical. My dad is an optometrist and so me and my oldest sister figured we would take over his practice. But my freshman to sophomore year, I decided I don’t really want to do optometry and because I was in Human Health Sciences, I got to learn about other things.
Now I’m like 98 percent positive that I want to do Occupational Therapy and then focus on either children or the older population.
It's a team sport so you know everybody has to work around everybody’s schedule. I’ve always said freshman year is really hard, and you have to invest in a planner — put everything that you do in a day. But it gets easier, it really does.
And I’ve been so shocked — I know that professors are supposed to work with student-athletes, but just the fact that they’ve gone above and beyond to help me and make sure that I stay caught up … it could be really easy for them to just send me a link or whatever, but they've been so helpful.
Even the students — everybody is so willing to cooperate with me and my schedule, literally top to bottom, people are so willing to work with me.
I’m a UK girl through and through. But the College of Health Sciences has been such a blessing in a way that I didn’t expect.
The people are all like-minded. Working in healthcare is not easy and so everybody knows that it takes special people, people who are willing to put in the work to get there. I think it’s really cool to be a part of that family.
I literally did a discussion board on it the other day. One of the questions was ‘What are your strengths on a team and what can you bring to help the other people around you?’
Of course athletics has prepared me for that. I’ve always been on some kind of team — you do it to the best of your ability and I think that that’s important in any kind of activity.
Sunday, we'll find out where we're getting sent. This is the really fun part — usually the bracket is pretty much done, but we shocked the world, and we have no idea where we're going.
Keep cheering us on!
Throughout March for Women’s History Month, the College of Health Sciences will spotlight Women Making History. Whether students, faculty, staff or alumni, these women are leading their fields of research, crossing traditional academic boundaries and impacting Kentucky’s most pressing challenges.