Prep Field Hockey: Leach inks letter of intent with UOP

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Gilroy's Emma Leach battles for control of the ball with Mitty during their Central Coast Section semifinal game at Leland High School in San Jose.

GILROY — When Emma Leach was in sixth grade, she told her parents that there was one thing she needed for Christmas — a field hockey stick. It wasn’t top of the line or anything fancy, but that stick sparked a dream of playing Division I hockey.
On Wednesday, the Gilroy High senior signed her letter of intent in to do just that for the University of the Pacific next season in front of a room full of family, friends and teammates in foyer of the Bob Hagen Gymnasium.
“We’ve been mainly the cheerleaders, she’s done the hard work,” Molly Leach, Emma’s mother said. “She’s just let us know what she needs to do to go to those places. …With Adam’s coaching she started playing Futures (USA Field Hockey’s Olympic development program) which has taken her to Virginia to play with Futures back there. She went to Arizona and Florida. It’s all been her.”
Emma sat next her father, Greg, with her mother, sisters Sarah and Megan and brother Adam all watching with pride as she signed on the dotted line.
It’s been a long road for Emma who, since receiving that very first stick, joined the Infinity field hockey club following in the footsteps of her cousin Dani Hemeon, who currently plays for the University of Iowa. It was there she met Adam Gemar and the pair would stick together through her high school career as he also coaches the Mustangs.
Emma earned her spot on the varsity squad her freshman year and over her high school career emerged as a leader and team captain. Her ability to remain cool under pressure helped her flourish as an elite player.
“I’m just super proud of her, you know? Out of all the years we’ve played hockey, she’s by far one of the better players,” the Mustangs coach said. “I always think of the A-team. If I could pick all the players that would actually be on one squad, she would one of my first picks.
“Nothing rattles her as a leader and we like that. You don’t want a leader that’s all crazy and going nuts when the sticks are down. We’ll miss her attitude, her kindness. She’s just a great person.”
Leaving Gilroy High and saying goodbye to all her teammates and friends will be hard, Emma said, but not as hard leaving behind her coach. For the first time in her playing career Emma will be without Gemar and even surrounded by the balloons, cake and flowers all set to celebrate her achievement, she couldn’t help but get teary eyed.
“He’s like a second dad to me,” Emma said with a lump in her throat. “He comes over for birthday parties and everything. I think I’ll probably miss him the most.”
But the smile returned when Emma talked about attending UOP next year. In addition to playing and traveling around the country with the Tigers, Emma will major in Biological Sciences.
“I’m excited for UOP where I can have a great education along with playing DI field hockey which was my ultimate goal,” she said.
Plus, Stockton is still close to home.
“I can go watch her play, unlike my brother who has to fly, I can drive two hours,” Molly said with a smile.

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