Indian Hill HS ‘03 University of Georgia ‘07

My Story

When Gary asked me to share my journey as an athlete along with a personal “Check Your Game” moment or two, one simple yet big decision came to mind. The decision to continue my diving career at the collegiate level and select a school that would not only be best for my athletic and academic development, but my growth as a person.  As an 18-year-old senior in high school, I was blissfully unaware that single decision would be the catalyst for much of my future: career, residence, friends, experiences, and eventually my family.

Despite the expectations and demands on time and friendships, being a student athlete gave me purpose and motivated me to be competitive / aspirational in other areas of life, so I knew quickly that continuing my diving career in college was the right decision. The comfortable and easy decision would have been staying close to home and attending my father’s alma mater, Miami University, where I would know everyone and return home often. At the same time, I knew I wanted something different…a new experience and challenge to be the best I could be in all areas of life.

So, I left Cincinnati to attend the University of Georgia despite not knowing a single person besides the head coach.

Four years later, I graduated with an NCAA championship and Olympic Trials qualification, some of my best friends in the world including my (future) husband, and a dream job with J. Crew in New York City.  As I think back on my decision process, I realized that diving allowed me to figure out what is most important and offered me an opportunity to pursue my goals and dreams in life. My diving and academic accomplishments at Indian Hill High School took me to the University of Georgia; which introduced me to my husband and career; which took me to New York City and established my life-long friends and a family of my own. This may not be an ‘atypical’ life journey, but for me personally, athletics pushed me to prioritize what is important in life and how I could get there.

On a personal level, last year (2019) I lost a dear friend unexpectedly and it rocked my world and everyone around me. This friend, brother, son, uncle, and husband was a hero to many of us. His motto was: “Next Play,” which we have since all adopted as our life motto. He focused on the present, never dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Find your “Next Play” in life and charge forward because it may ultimately lead you down a new and unexpected path with exciting opportunities and lifelong relationships.

The Matthew D. Barsamian foundation is just getting off the ground right now, but his friends and family are dedicated to keeping his legacy alive.

My Advice

I encourage everyone to use athletics as a vehicle to take a different path, even if it seems difficult at a young age. Life is a series of choices. Take a leap of faith and trust the process because it could turn into endless opportunities for growth and fulfillment. 


Emily, though our paths never crossed in the halls at IHHS, I recognize your name as one of the best divers in high school. I think it's just crazy that you never lost one meet during your high school days, including 4 State Championships in Ohio! Congratulations on all of those successes and many more.

As I'm reading your story, it's so hard to imagine the mature decision you made in regards to attending college. At first, I thought your story might be to encourage other athletes who are looking to participate in athletics at the next level, but then I realized it's for a much bigger audience. Your story is for all people. Whether you are a student who is in school or a working adult, it's those mature choices that we all need to make on a daily basis if we want to have the best outcomes. Instead of going along with the crowd, be different! Thanks again for being such a kind person as I've gotten to know you better over the phone and I look forward to staying in touch.

Lastly, thanks for sharing about your friend and the "Next Play!" I'm encouraged by your friend to make My "Next Play" by helping to impact millions of others, because of people like yourself who have participated with your Check Your Game story. Thanks again, Gary Rogers

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Brian Burke says:

Emily was tenacious in her pursuit of diving excellence! I am honored to call Emily a friend and incredibly proud of what she achieved!!

Caroline says:


This story was so encouraging to me! I love how you were able to step out of your comfort zone and how that brought so much growth and new opportunities. You have an amazing story! Thank you for sharing!

Andrew Rogers says:

I think this story is very good. I think it is a difficult decision to make as a young adult on college and athletics when you have virtually no idea where life could lead you. I think that you just have to go with a gut feeling all the while trusting God and praying about your decision. Sometimes the best decision is to take the next step and go somewhere where u don’t know anyone and in other circumstances the best decision is to stay closer to home. As long as we have a relationship with Christ, then we shouldn’t be worrying about the past or the future, rather we should be thinking about our next step in the present and take our life step-by-step.

Blake Southerland says:

I like how you took a step of faith and weren’t afraid to go to a school outside of what was familiar. It’s so cool to look back at how one step can lead to many unexpected blessings! I also love how your friend’s motto, Next Play, now ties into your life.

Ivan Clemons says:

It’s great to see your remarkable journey. It will help give others the push they need to take their own path even if if it seems like they are going through a dark tunnel. As the y go deeper into the tunnel lights will turn on as they put more and more work in. I wish you nothing but continued success and many blessings!

Ray Noble says:

How lucky I was to be Emily’s diving coach during her formative years of 7th through 12th grades at Indian Hill. I watched Emily grow from a somewhat shy little diver, who at the start, showed that she could have a promising future in diving. By the time Emily finished her high school career, she became that great diver I always thought she would be by finishing with a history making fourth OHSAA State Diving Championship. A record that will never be beat!

During those years Emily totally dedicated herself to diving. The time she spent training with her school teams combined with the time she spent with her club coaches at practice and diving in national competitions all over the country really paid off. With Emily’s drive to be her best, along with the skills and confidence instilled in her by all her coaches, prepared Emily for the success that she ultimately achieved in the highly competitive world of Division 1 college diving.