Humans of Harker: Just keep going

Emma Crook expands her scope of the world through her motivation to try new things


Lavanya Subramanian

“It’s really easy to give up, and it’s harder to keep going and keep your head up. Yet, even though it’s the harder option, sometimes it’s the better option. Sometimes in the middle of a game, I snap out of it; sometimes I get really tired or I want to go home. But I have to remember that there’s a bigger picture than just that moment,” Emma Crook (12) said.

As Emma Crook (12) reminisces about the softball game against Notre Dame-San Jose in her freshman year, her eyes sparkle and a slight grin appears on her face. Beginning with a bit of a rocky start, the Eagles were 14-0 towards the middle of the game, and while overcoming this lead seemed difficult, Emma and her teammates continued to remain optimistic. When Emma went on the field for the first time during the game, she remembers how her teammates cheered her on and supported her. With the team’s rallying encouragement, and through several great pitches, batting and catches, the Eagles overcame a 14-point lead and won the game 23-22. Emma vividly recalls the feeling of exuberance and joy when the game ended.

“Everyone was cheering and it was a really positive environment,” Emma said. “Even though … we were down by so much, if you were in the dugout, it looked like the other way around. I feel like that really helped the team. It also taught me how to be more positive, even though it really did look like we were going to lose.”

Emma first began playing softball in fourth grade when she learned how to bat from one of her teachers, who was also helping with the softball team at the time. Her parents’ encouragement for her to pursue the sport influenced her determination to improve. From that moment on, Emma’s love for the sport blossomed. She appreciates how softball is able to clear her mind when she steps onto the field.

“There [are] things that I worry about when I’m [not] on the field,” Emma said. “My school life and social life, everything outside, it doesn’t affect me once I’m there. I’m excited to be there. I love the atmosphere. I love being on the field.”

In softball, Emma plays the catcher position, which she describes as a tough position to play. Several injuries over the last few years have pushed her to temporarily take a step back and reflect on how she can improve her playing strategy. Embracing her position as catcher also allows Emma to understand how each member of the team plays a different but equally important role.

“You can’t do things by yourself [in softball],” Emma said. “A catcher wouldn’t be a catcher without the pitcher, and a pitcher wouldn’t be a pitcher without a catcher. I feel like there’s a lot of things in life where you have to have one thing to have the other, whether that be both positives, one positive or one negative.”

Although navigating high school life while committing to a sport and balancing academics can be quite difficult, close friend Ava Lett (12) notes how Emma always encourages those around her with her positivity.

“She’s a very inspirational person,” Ava said. “She likes giving people motivation to do things. [It] doesn’t matter who they are, but she motivates people to improve and do better than what they’re doing.”

While Emma appreciates how she is able to leave her emotions to the side when she plays softball, she also values having an outlet for her feelings and vulnerability, which she expresses through writing. She always adored reading when she was young, but when she entered sophomore year of high school, where she started to push the boundaries of her writing skills, she immediately fell in love with poems and short stories.

“[Writing’s] how I talk about my emotions a lot,” Emma said. “Not talking about them or not having a space to step away from life when you need to isn’t very good for anybody. Having an outlet has really helped me.”

Inspired by both the intensity of softball and the serenity of writing, Emma embraces a growth mindset whether she’s catching the ball on the field or letting her pen flow freely on paper. Being both an athlete and a writer allows Emma to learn how to overcome new difficulties while not becoming discouraged.

“[Something that I’ve learned from writing and softball] is that it’s okay to make a mistake,” Emma said. “I know my first edits have a lot of grammar errors because I’m just writing and not thinking about what’s right or wrong; I’m going with it. That’s the same for when I’m practicing or in games; if you miss something, or you’re not doing well that day, it’s completely okay.”

Emma’s drive to excel at whatever she’s doing stands out to close friend Nicole Arena (12), who observes Emma’s tenacity, no matter where she is.

“Whether it’s in class or out of class, Emma’s learned and overcome a lot,” Nicole said. “I’ve had several classes with her throughout the years, and she always seems to come out on top. She always wants to improve and that self-motivation is really key to [who] Emma is as a person.”

Emma’s motivational headspace continues to persist, even as she stretches herself out of her comfort zone. Having enjoyed learning Japanese as a junior, Emma decided to take Japanese 4 this year, and even though she initially struggled with it, she enjoys seeing how far she’s come and her improvement at the language.

“[Learning Japanese is] really challenging, but the payoff once you learn a new grammar form, or new kanji, is satisfying,” Emma said. “You can see your improvement. When you’re watching things like anime, or when I am talking to my Japanese teacher, you can feel the difference. You really feel like you’re learning, and I enjoy seeing progress with myself.”

Japanese teacher Yumiko Aridomi has taught Emma for the last three years and admires how she is able to improve from her mistakes while also helping to create a positive environment in the classroom.

“Because of her personality, even when she makes a mistake, we can all laugh, and we feel okay,” Aridomi said. “[The] class atmosphere [with Emma] is very good.”

As Emma reflects back on her time in high school, she notes how her activities and interests have helped her to thrive in numerous ways. Through softball and writing, she’s been able to learn to always keep going, no matter what obstacles or hurdles life throws at her.

“It’s really easy to give up, and it’s harder to keep going and keep your head up,” Emma said. “Yet even though it’s the harder option, sometimes it’s the better option. Sometimes in the middle of a game, I snap out of it; sometimes I get really tired or I want to go home. But I have to remember that there’s a bigger picture than just that moment.”