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Article Published November 21, 2019

Appleman Having Storied Career on the Volleyball Court

By By Peter Vander Veer

Guilford volleyball player Emma Appleman will probably always be known as “the coach’s kid.” Emma, a junior captain who plays outside hitter for the Indians, is the daughter of two college coaches with some strong ties to the area. Emma’s mother Erin is the head coach of the women’s volleyball team at Yale University. Her father Christian was an assistant coach with the Yale men’s tennis team for 15 years and is currently the associate head coach for the men’s squad at UConn. As a result, it should come as no surprise that sports have always been a big part of Emma’s life.

“There’s no way that Emma could have escaped this. She was born into it,” Erin Appleman says. “Dinner table discussions have pretty much always been around all aspects of volleyball and other sports, as well.”

Emma’s father was also an excellent tennis and basketball player at Penn State University. Emma played basketball and volleyball while growing up. However, when she earned a spot on Guilford’s varsity team as a freshman, Emma decided to turn her attention toward the volleyball court.

“I was playing both AAU basketball and travel-team volleyball, and I realized I couldn’t continue doing both,” says Emma. “Once I got to high school, I also realized I had to focus more on my studies. The choice wasn’t easy, but now, I’m happy that I made it.”

Emma took an interest in volleyball at an early age, learning a lot about the sport by spending many hours in the Yale gym. As soon as she could hold a volleyball in her hand, Emma started conducting her own practices in her family’s play room.

“I’d come home from school and practice, setting and hitting off of the walls in that play room,” Emma says. “I was hooked.”

As a freshman, Emma played on a Guilford team that advanced to the SCC Tournament final and lost to Cheshire. This year, Emma helped the tight-knit Indians capture their first conference title since 1994 with a 3-2 victory versus Shelton in the championship match.

“We have great team chemistry. We all love to play the game and have fun,” says Emma. “Before the season began, each one of us wrote down what we wanted to achieve, our personal goals. So many of them said ‘getting better,’ but we all had the goal of wanting to win.”

Emma is averaging 15 kills per match for the Indians, who have a record of 22-3 and are playing in the Class L State Tournament semifinals this week. Emma is a two-time captain and a three-year starter for Guilford’s varsity squad. Last fall, she earned All-SCC First Team, All-State Second Team, and New Haven Register All-Area honors, in addition to being named Guilford’s Most Valuable Player as a sophomore.

This year, Emma received the SCC Player of the Year Award, was selected as MVP of the SCC Tournament, and was once again named team MVP for Head Coach Laura Anastasio’s club.

“The girls on our team call Emma the mitochondria of the team. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and Emma is the powerhouse of our team,” Anastasio says. “Emma is a tremendous athlete with great knowledge of the sport and a competitive spirit. She works harder than anyone else, and she makes everyone around her better. She has high energy on the court.”

Emma has already committed to continue her volleyball career at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She’s taking Advanced Placement courses at Guilford and is in the Early College Development Program, where high school students are taught college-level courses through UConn.

“I’m very interested in environmental studies,” says Emma. “The College of Charleston offers some very good courses in marine biology. I’ll be heading in that direction.”

Of course, Emma still has plenty of volleyball ahead of her at Guilford. She also plays the sport on a year-round basis as a member of the Northeast Volleyball Club out of Greenwich. While she’s a hitter for the Indians, Emma is a setter—the same position that her mother played—on her offseason squad.

“That may sound strange, but I love the position” Emma says. “It kind of came naturally to me. I do like to be in control out on the court. As a setter, you’re the team’s quarterback. You see the entire court and, of course, my mom was a setter in college.”