Emma Flaitz with MC Andy Malnoske inside a packed house at the Main Place during Hornell Sports Night on Saturday. (Steve Harrison photo)
Story and video by JOHN ANDERSON
Emma Flaitz never thought of playing sports, and certainly had no idea she would be honored at the 47th Annual Hornell Sports Night.
However, she would watch her older sister, Anna Flaitz, play soccer and track and field so she gave it a try.
“Honestly, I was never interested in sports but my older sister ran track and played soccer so I said, “Oh, I’ll do it because she’s doing it,’ and I kept doing it and good things happened,” Emma said.
Boy did they ever.
She wound up excelling in indoor and outdoor track and field, setting several Hornell High School records in the sports with a long tradition of excellence. She was also a two-year captain and all-star on the soccer team.
On Saturday night, she was honored as the 2022 Hornell Sports Night Female Athlete of the Year. The male athlete honor went to Chase Freeland, the sportsman award to John Koester and former professional athletes Cornelius Bennett, Wade Boggs, Felipe Silva and Greg ‘The Hammer” Valentine were honored as well. The Special Olympics Olumpian of the Year was Joey Amann.
Despite sports and other activities, Emma was also salutatorian of her class.
“It was sometimes difficult but I had a really good support system from my parents (Ed and Michele Flaitz),” Emma said. “My mom would do thousands of flash cards with me, anatomy and physiology flash cards, so that was helpful. Drove me to all my practices … having a great support system helped.”
Older sister went to SUNY Geneseo and won a national championship in track and field. Emma is now at SUNY Geneseo and participating in sports, and younger sister, Elaina is having a great career at Hornell High School.
Emma is enjoying the challenges of Geneseo, a top-notch university, but she also misses those crowds and her friends at Hornell.
“I am running in college now and I have a new team, but there is nothing like competing and playing each day with people you grew up with and you have that connection with,” Emma said. “I also miss those soccer games under the lights, on the turf, running under the lights and having that community support, those were the best moments.”
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH EMMA: