WINCHESTER — Emma Lind took one for the team, so to speak.
In a good way.
The 19-year-old Umpqua Community College sophomore could have graduated last spring and moved on to her next school, but chose to play one more season of volleyball for the Riverhawks.
Everyone associated with the program seems pleased that Lind, a 2017 graduate of South Umpqua High School, is sticking around for fall term.
The 5-foot-9 outside hitter is one of the team captains for Umpqua (8-9 overall), which opens Northwest Athletic Conference Southern Region action this weekend on the road. The Riverhawks will be in Vancouver, Washington, Friday night to face Clark and meet Mt. Hood in Gresham Saturday afternoon.
“Volleyball is real important in my life,” Lind said during an interview at the college Monday. “My mom was a volleyball coach when I was younger, and I was always coming to practice and learning how to play. It has just continued to grow.
“I thought it was important for me to come back and finish this season (at UCC). I want to have a good finish to my volleyball career because I love the game.”
Lind, like the rest of her teammates, is hoping for an opportunity to play in the NWAC championship tournament, which will be held Nov. 15-18 at the Tacoma Convention Center. Umpqua needs to finish in the top four in the South during the regular season in order to qualify for the NWACs.
The Riverhawks fell short last year, tying for fifth in the region.
“Our talent is still super strong,” Lind said. “We’ve learned a lot over the last couple of tournaments. We’ve learned to communicate better and the chemistry’s growing. We need to work on finishing the ball better, but our defense has been strong. Even if our block doesn’t get there the defense is strong.”
The other sophomores on the team are Madison Becker, Kyrie Keffer and Brook West.
“The freshmen are looking really good,” said Lind. “We really depend on them.”
Lind is an all-around player for the Riverhawks. She ranks second on the team in kills (53), third in blocks (eight) and third in digs (69).
Lind was honored as the NWAC Southern Region Defensive Player of the Week last week for her efforts in three matches in Washington.
UCC head coach Lacy Pinard appreciates all the qualities Lind, an honor student, brings to the team.
“I had the pleasure of coaching her in club volleyball,” said Pinard, in her sixth year with the program. “I’ve seen Emma grow physically on the court with confidence and athletic ability. She just follows everything you want in an athlete when it comes to attitude and work ethic.
“Off the court, she represents the program in everything I want it to be — with a positive attitude and how she walks around in the community to represent the team. The team has been following suit this year. She was willing to stay because she loves the sport and loves her team, and we’re really happy she was willing to commit to us for one more season.”
Emma Marie Lind, the daughter of Mark and Michelle Lind, is transferring to Western Oregon University in Monmouth after fall term. She’s unsure about continuing volleyball. She plans to enter the education field and become an elementary schoolteacher.
Her mother is a sixth-grade teacher at Coffenberry Middle School in Myrtle Creek.
“I’ve wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps,” Emma said. “My mom has been a teacher for a long time. When I was younger I’d sit in her classrooms. When I was in high school I’d go over and help with the little kids and loved seeing them grow and learn.
“I’m excited to move and be on my own,” she added. “But I’m also a little nervous because I haven’t been away from home. I think I’m ready.”
Lind’s boyfriend, Cody Gray, is a 2017 South Umpqua graduate. They’ve been dating since they were freshmen in high school. He was a starter for the UCC men’s basketball team as a freshman last year, but ended his basketball career and is currently a student at WOU.
“We’ve been through a lot together,” Lind said. “We’ve always had sports in our lives, so we’ve learned to communicate, work together and get through the tough times. He means everything to me and I’m excited for our life together.”
Lind is interested in coaching down the road.
“I want to share my love and passion for volleyball,” she said. “I always want it to be a part of my life.”