Former University of Connecticut student and walk-on basketball player Steve Emt will represent the United States in PyeongChang as a member of the Paralympic curling team.
Emt, a Manchester resident and seventh-grade math teacher, said he had never tried curling before being approached by U.S. assistant coach Tony Colacchio while vacationing on Cape Cod in the summer of 2012.
“I was relaxing on the Cape, watching the ferries come in, when (Colacchio) came up to me and said, ‘What if I told you I could make you an Olympian?’” Emt said. “He happened to see me pushing up a hill and walked around Woods Hole for around 45 minutes until he found me.”
Emt has a history of sports involvement, as he played basketball for UConn from 1992-94 and coached a high school team for several years. Though he had never tried curling before he met Colacchio, he soon became very interested in the possibility of learning how to play it.
“We talked for about an hour, then I went home, Googled the sport and fell in love,” Emt said. “This is a sport that anyone can play—it doesn’t see ability, doesn’t see race, doesn’t see religion, doesn’t see skin color.”
Emt soon found himself training with the Cape Cod Curling Club on weekends and with clubs in Bridgeport and Norfolk on weekdays.
“I would leave Friday after school, train through the weekend, then get home late Sunday night and be back in my classroom Monday morning,” Emt said. “I wrote down my goals five years ago. I looked at it every day and checked things off as I go.”
Emt said he qualified for the United States curling team in 2015 and has been a member of it ever since.
“We have a great team; we get along really well and play well together,” Emt said. “The 2018 Olympics always seemed so far away, but here we are.”
Emt said training for the Paralympics is a large commitment but is ultimately very rewarding.
“It was difficult—a lot of sacrifice—time, effort, finances—but that’s what you gotta do if you want to make the Olympics, without a doubt,” Emt said. “It’s an incredible feeling to be traveling the world and representing our country.”
Emt, who was a UConn student for two years before graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University, said he is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, including his encounter with Colacchio.
“I’ve learned to not ask why. Everything happens for a reason,” Emt said. “You shouldn’t ask why, just try to learn something from everything that happens to you.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.