On Friday, Nov. 1, Shady Side Academy junior Emory Anderson had the unique opportunity (and challenge) of competing in back-to-back WPIAL playoff games in two different sports in one day: first as a starting defender for the girls' soccer team in the WPIAL 1A Championship game at Highmark Stadium at 4 p.m., then as a placekicker for the football team in a WPIAL 2A first-round game at Washington at 7 p.m. The soccer team defeated Greensburg Central Catholic 2-1 to win the WPIAL title, while the football team ended its season with a loss to top-seeded Washington, 21-7.
We caught up with Emory to ask about her whirlwind playoff day.
Q: How did you feel heading into Friday's back-to-back playoff games?
A: I knew Friday was going to be a crazy busy day. I was excited to play in the girls' soccer WPIAL Championship game at Highmark Stadium and then go to Washington, Pa., for the first football playoff game. I was a little worried about making it to the football game on time, but with a little luck I made it with time to spare.
Q: Walk through the timeline from the end of the soccer game to the football game: Were you able to enjoy the soccer championship celebration with your teammates before heading to the football game?
A: I was able to enjoy the championship celebration with my teammates. After the medal and trophy presentation, we were able to hang out and just soak in the moment as a team at Highmark Stadium. It was a beautiful evening with a wonderful view of downtown Pittsburgh. After saying goodbye to my teammates, I changed into my football uniform at Highmark Stadium. We left Pittsburgh just after 6 p.m. My dad drove me, and luckily traffic was light. We were able to get the Washington football field by 6:50 and I was able to join the team as they were leaving the locker room at the start of the game. I didn't get to warm up prior to kickoff. Unfortunately, I did not get to kick. The game was very close and the guys played hard against a very good Washington. We were in the game until the end despite having several injuries. I was proud of how hard the team played that night.
Q: Looking back now, describe your up and down emotions that day.
A: Last Friday was a day I will never forget. It was an emotional day all the way through, all in a positive way. Winning the WPIAL Championship was such a special moment. I am so proud of our SSA girls' soccer team. Even though the football team lost our playoff game, I needed to be there. I have been practicing with the football team since conditioning in June. My teammates and coaches on the football team are part of my extended family. I was part of two great teams at SSA this fall. I wouldn't have missed the football game just like I wouldn't have missed the soccer match. I was just lucky enough I could do both on the same day.
Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who made this day happen. This starts with SSA, all of the coaches on both teams – especially coaches DiNardo and Lynch, the guys on the football team and the girls on the soccer team, and lastly my family. Without everyone's support and love this day would have never happened, and I would not have these awesome memories. While it wasn't always easy, the memories and experiences I had with of these teams and teammates is unforgettable.
View a photo slideshow of Emory's playoff day: