After big softball season, she will focus on hoops at Whitman

by: COURTESY OF GARY KEMP - Cleveland High senior Emily Rommel, who starred in three sports, was voted PIL 5A co-player of the year in softball.Cleveland High softball coach Richard Breece doesn’t hold back when putting the athletic career of PIL 5A co-player of the year Emily Rommel into historical perspective.

“She’s probably one of the best athletes the PIL has ever had,” he says.

Based on Rommel’s prodigious achievements, it’s hard to argue with him.

After spending autumn playing varsity volleyball and winter making second team all-state and earning All-City player of the year in girls basketball, Rommel posted a .533 batting average and .786 slugging percentage in her senior season on the diamond.

Her mother, Margaret, explains that Rommel has a knack for athletics.

“Sports just come naturally to her,” she says.

At the Portland Interscholastic League’s recent and annual athletic banquet at Nike, Rommel was awarded yet another accolade: sportswoman of the year at Cleveland.

“It was a really nice surprise,” Margaret says.

Adds her mom: “The best part about it is she is really humble. I brag about her way more than she talks about herself.”

Breece points to Rommel’s meticulousness as one reason for her success.

“If she needs to work on something, she will work on it. She doesn’t have to be told, she just does it,” he says.

Rommel rarely had days off throughout her athletic career, her mother says, noting that Rommel “pretty much had a practice every day of the school week, practice on Saturdays, and she helped with a basketball camp on Sundays.”

Rommel acknowledges that excellence doesn’t just happen.

“Working so hard for so many years has helped me progress and be the best that I can be at this point,” she says.

Next year, Rommel will attend Whitman College on an academic and an achievement scholarship and will try to help the Fighting Missionary basketball team defend its NCAA Division III championship.

Academically, Rommel is contemplating majoring in economics and wants to earn a masters degree is sports management.

Margaret says Rommel also is interested in coaching, and even coached her neighbor’s T-ball team a couple of years ago.

Throughout her youth, Rommel played volleyball, soccer, softball and volleyball, never confining herself to the recent trend of specialization.

“I was into as many sports as I could be,” she says.

She adds that if she had specialized, “I wouldn’t have liked the sport as much because I would be spending too much time on it.”

However, at the collegiate ranks, she’s excited that she will channel her athletic talent to the basketball court.

“I’m excited to focus my energy on one sport. Playing three sports can spread me thin,” she says.

Cleveland High senior Emily Rommel.However, Breece says if she wanted to, the Warriors’ standout shortstop good enough to play college softball.

“She would definitely be an asset to any softball team out there,” he says.

Rommel might need a break, though.

Along with her effort during the season, she has played softball in the Amateur Softball Association every year since sixth grade. This summer, she will still play softball, but on a less intense schedule.

To spend time with one another and as a means of distraction, Rommel and her friends typically planned one major get-together every month throughout much of high school. Some months, they would throw a party, and at this time of year, they would go to the Starlight Parade.

“She has a really close-knit group of friends,” Margaret says.

Rommel will use her precious free time this summer to hang out with friends, most of whom are going to attend the University of Oregon or Oregon State next year while she traverses the five hours to Walla Walla, Wash.

“It’ll be nice to relax and do some other things this summer. I’d like to spend as much time with my friends as I can,” she says.

She also says a graduation trip to San Francisco is in the works.

But once summer comes to a close, she will have to leave her friends and family behind.

Rommel says she is “nervous but excited” to make the jump to the collegiate ranks.

Breece says he believes Rommel is destined to flourish.

“She’s just one of those kids that gets the job done. She’s an all-around good kid.”

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