By Ray Hamill — Huskies senior McKenzie Emmons is getting set to take her game to the collegiate level, and she says the coaching at Fortuna High helped prepare her for the jump.
Emmons, who played a pivotal role in the Huskies’ historic season this past winter, has committed to play basketball at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
And she’s thankful to head coach Scott Betts and his coaching staff for putting her in position to do so.
“I honestly think I have grown more this year (as a player) than ever before because of the coaching,” Emmons said. “They were always pushing us to be our best, always wanting us to come to practice and have fun.”
The formula worked, with the Huskies winning a first Big 5 championship since the early 1980s, finishing 24-4 in what was a remarkable season for the program, with the freshmen and JV teams each also winning 20 games.
And that success was noticed throughout the community.
“Just being Big 5 champs, it’s really cool,” the senior guard said. “People everywhere I went, it seems like, were saying, ‘hey, you guys are Big 5 champs, that’s cool.’”
Emmons will join a Cuesta team that was forced to cancel this past season just three games in after five of the 11 players suffered season-ending injuries.
The Fortuna senior expects to go in and compete for a starting spot at either point guard or shooting guard and says it didn’t take long to convince her it was a perfect landing spot.
“I went down there and visited and I loved the area,” she said. “And I wanted to play at the next level.”
Emmons, who wants to be a dental hygienist, will be traveling a long way from home to go to school, but she won’t be doing it alone.
After making the decision to play at Cuesta, she wasted no time convincing her best friend Maggie Stacy to come along.
Stacy, a dedicated standout in cross country and track at Fortuna, will compete in those sports at Cuesta.
“We’re going to be living together,” Emmons said. “Her family’s moving to Bakersfield and I said ‘why don’t you go to Cuesta with me,’ it’s only an hour away.”
Emmons says she will remember her teammates more than anything from her time playing volleyball and basketball at Fortuna.
“I’ve been playing with the seniors the longest, since I was little,” she said. “I’m definitely going to miss my teammates. We created a great bond.”
After her time at Cuesta, Emmons hopes to continue her basketball career at a four-year school somewhere.
“I just want to keep playing as long as I can,” she said. “If you can, why not?”