By Tom Mauldin - 2/17/2021
When Westview High School senior Emma Antich was asked what advice she would give players who ‘aspire to play at the next level,’ she didn’t hesitate in her answer.
“Keep working. You’ll never know the full potential of what you can do if you never put in the effort,” said Antich.
She added, “You need to start thinking about the future. You need to have a plan and how you are going to get there.”
Despite the pandemic and the moving target of state, federal and local government decisions on timelines for returning to school and extra-curricular activities, Antich has followed her own advice.
Antich, who was all-league as a freshman and sophomore in 2018 and 2019, has used “down time” in the pandemic to increase her physical performance. She says she is in the “best shape” she’s been in as an athlete.
“With limited class time, I have more time to work out for both softball and basketball as well as spend time working out at a fitness facility,” said Antich, who carries a 4.17 grade point average. “It’s preparing me for my senior year and my future.
“I’ve been focusing on specific athletic training three times a week, some times remotely and zoom. I’ve been doing that consistently,” she added. “Less school time has given me more time and freedom to train.”
The opportunities for physical improvement have been accompanied by her academic focus. Headed to Cornell in August, Antich could be “coasting” in the (online) classroom as many seniors do. Or preparing for what lies ahead in the Ivy League.
“Online school is not too bad,” said Antich. “Our teachers have found ways to make it more interactive. I really like classes, all interesting. Even though school has been lighter. I’ve been taking classes that set me up for academic success. I didn’t want my senior year to be a break full of light classes.”
Antich admitted it is “difficult sometimes … it’s hard to wake up and then get on zoom. It’s hard to transition from sleep to school time.”
Prior to the pandemic, Antich said students had up to eight classes in a day, but now have no more than four classes.
Always looking for silver linings, Antich said the pandemic has been hard.
“We can’t be with our team and come together as a unit,” she said. “We’re a young high school team and haven’t played together much. As an individual, it’s hard for me because I am socially extraverted. I can’t do things with friends.”
In addition to focusing on her grades and fitness, the two-sport athlete has picked up new hobbies playing the ukulele and embroidering.
Antich, who has been playing softball “my entire life,” is the daughter of longtime Westview baseball coach Steve Antich and Kristin, a former college catcher. Her parents met in college and her older brother was a four-sport standout at Westview.
She has, literally, been around sports her entire life.
Antich, who was a member of Fastpitch Northwest’s 2019 Northwest All Star team that played five games in Las Vegas, said her dad is her “go to” person.
“His knowledge of the game and just listening to what he say has opened my eyes,” said Antich, a former Westview High bat girl. “He has taught me so much about softball. He’s really smart … everything he says is super inspiring and I take to heart everything he has to say.”
Among advice she’s “working on” is “control the controllables.”
“You can’t make other people be who you want them to be,” said Antich. “I’m pretty caring and always reach out to players who are struggling, I always want to help, but my dad reminds me that is out of our control sometimes. It has to be up to them.”
Antich considers her strength her determination to complete.
“I am stubborn at times,” she admits. “If I am not happy where I am in a certain aspect, I will work at it tirelessly until I am satisfied with it. I understand you have to put into it what you want to get out.”
And that has led to her love of softball.
“Although it is very much a team sport, your success really depends on you and your own performance,” she said. “For example, when you're up to bat or fielding a ground ball everyone is focused on you and it feels like you are out there alone.”
Antich, who plays summer ball with the Bat Company, is a “please-hit-the-ball-to-me” type of player.
“It’s all on you … the center of attention,” she said. “When you succeed … make a good play, homer … no doubt. Team sport, but just the best feeling with everyone is relying on you. I love it.”
She feels the worst part of the game is it’s a game of failure.
“You bat only one for three, is decent, but you’re out more times than you get on. Must learn to cope with failure. Some days 4-4, others 0-4,” she said. “We learn so much from it.”
Antich’s best and worst softball memories both happened against Portland rival Jesuit.
“My freshman year, we were pretty good. We beat Jesuit by one run and I made a diving catch with the bases loaded to save the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Her worst memory happened a year later and just weeks after Westview pounded Jesuit, 12-4.
“It was senior night and they beat us 5-3. It was heartbreaking because we knew we could beat them — we have that super geek rivalry. It really hurt as we wanted to do it for our seniors.”
While her goals on the field are to be the best teammate she can be, off the field is to simply do her best.
“It’s my job and duty to be the best I can,” she said. “I make sure I do everything in my power to do that. I’ve been taught to my hardest. It’s all you can do.”
Antich, who considered University of San Diego, West Point and Princeton, chose Cornell to pursue her education as well as to play softball.
“I am highly interested in sports medicine and physical therapy so when I learned that Cornell is a world-leader in stem cell research for injury recovery, I knew it would be a great fit,” said Antich, who wants to be either a pediatrician or do something in sports medicine or physical therapy.
Her goals at Cornell are to play anywhere the coaches want and to prove to everyone “they can rely on me.”
But prior to heading to Cornell (Ithaca, New York) in August, Antich is planning on high school and summer softball seasons.
“Our coach and athletic directors are positive we’re going to have a season,” she said. “The lost season gives us motivation. Gives us a chip on our shoulders. We will have fun and remember why we do it.”
If the pandemic forces more changes, Antich likely will rely on her “life motto” – the Bible verse Joshua 1:9.
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Regardless the future, Antich will no doubt follow her own advice — “keep working. You’ll never know the full potential of what you can do if you never put in the effort.”
She has a plan.