By Nick Schauer
As the gymnasium begins to fill with fans at Gilmanton High School in West Central Wisconsin, the assistant coach tends to her players, making sure they are stretched out and mentally prepared for the night’s match-up. It’s not her first experience coaching, and it probably won’t be her last.
Emily Erickson has taken to coaching as a way to continue to pursue her passions in athletics and working with kids. After acquiring a degree in kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Erickson became certified as a substitute teacher in Mondovi where she now helps to coach cross country and track. She helps to coach the varsity girls’ basketball team in Gilmanton as well.
Erickson did not plan on getting into coaching. Initially she just wanted to be involved in the sport she loved in high school. She began by helping out at cross country practices and eventually became an assistant coach. From there she took her coaching experience to basketball.
Erickson is currently a technical sergeant in the Air Force Reserves. Another Something she hadn’t considered until her senior year in high school.
It was Erickson’s cross country coach that first got her thinking about life in the military. “In high school he was always bugging me about it and he’s like “Emily you know you should join the military, think about the Air Force.”
After graduation she met with a recruiter and decided that joining the Air Force was something she wanted to do. Like most people who join the military, Erickson’s family members were nervous about her enlistment.
“My dad was all for it. He was pretty excited for me,” Erickson said “My mom was a little hesitant and same with my grandma and stuff but once I got through basic training and they saw how well I was doing with it and that I enjoyed it so much, then they started to change their mind a little bit and support me a little bit more.”
Erickson says she uses her military experience to influence kids positively.
“I think it’s given me a lot of discipline and given me a lot of respect for other people.” Erickson said. “I just try to reflect that and be a role model for the younger kids that I coach and that I teach and hope that they can be somewhat like me and have a bright future.”
Erickson’s presence has been noted on and off the court. As she continues to be a role model she has received praise from head coaches and players alike.
Rick Bloom the head coach for the varsity girls’ basketball team in Gilmanton, spoke highly of Erickson as an assistant coach. Her track experience and military etiquette have made a noticeable impact on the team.
“With her knowledge of doing cross country, track, we kind of brought that into (practice)… the girls weren’t really in good shape.” Bloom said. “It’s a benefit for the whole team. We’re doing core, we’re doing running so every game that’s what we’ve got so far. They’re…it’s starting to improve.”
Callie Roe, a junior at Gilmanton and basketball team member spoke highly of Erickson as well.
“Sophomore year we didn’t really have both coaches to run with us and to push with us and both Emily and Rick have been there pushing us and running with us and running our plays with us so they know what’s going on as well as we do” Roe said.
Erickson remains positive about her growing coaching career. Watching kids succeed and develop has been rewarding to say the least.
“I would say just watching the kids succeed. And having goals, setting goals. And reaching those goals. Working hard and practice every day.” Erickson said. “Yeah, and just to see them smile. To see them having fun is the biggest thing.”
Erickson plans to continue coaching well into the future.
“I don’t see myself stepping away from it, I think if I did I’d miss it too much.” Erickson said.