Senior overcomes basketball injury, ‘creates team chemistry’

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Photos by Neena Sidhu, Digital Construction by Caroline Wilburn

An image blending an action shot and portrait shot of basketball player Emma Bish shows two sides of the athlete. Bish, a senior this year, competes with the varsity team. “I think one of my favorite memories would definitely be at team dinners,” Bish said. “Lots of times we just turn on music and have a good time. Between that, and the bus rides on the way to the games, I just think everyone is really comfortable and it motivates us.”

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As her shoes squeak on the floor, senior Emma Bish catches her breath and the ball. She said she’s thankful for every moment on the court, especially after a back injury could have taken it all away.   

As someone who’s been in the program since seventh grade, Bish has grown up with the game of basketball.  With her current spot as center, she leads her team on and off court. After a loss to Little Elm with a score of 34 to 55 the team is 4 to 7 in district. The Lady Eagles takes on Guyer at home on Friday at 7 p.m. in the PHS Arena. Currently quarantined, Bish plans on returning to the court against McKinney on Dec. 22.  

“I started when I was really young. It’s always been really big in my family.” Bish said. “My uncle is actually a college coach so I was always just kind of expected to try it out, and I ended up really liking it and sticking with it.” 

Working closely with her throughout her high school career, head coach James Rachal points out her coach-ability and skill to adapt as keys to her success. With her current spot as center, she protects her home-team basket while also earning points for her team. 

As she prepares to shoot the ball, senior Emma Bish stands in place. During her freshman year, Bish broke her back. Despite this set back she still found a way to play. (Neena Sidhu)

“Emma’s been in our program since seventh grade, all the way up through middle school,” Rachal said. “I think we’ve made her play a different position almost every year. She’s been able to adapt and just be coachable in doing many different things for our team and being very unselfish.”

Bish said she started out loving the sport, but she has grown to love her teammates even more. 

“I really fell in love with the sport – No. 1,” Bish said. “But (practicing with) my teammates every day, that’s become like my second family. I love being with them and just working towards our goals.” 

Beside getting her team together for activities outside of school, Bish unites the team on the court, pointing out players on the opposing team who may be a threat. 

“She’s always wanting to get the team together to create team chemistry,” teammate and junior Saylor Lewis said. “If you look, you can tell she’s our leader on the court by the way she talks and points out players.” 

Bish’s coach said he believes in her trustworthiness and reliability on the court.  

“She’s always in the right place at the right time,” Rachal said. “One thing I know about her is  she’s not going to make mental mistakes that cost our team. She’s going to do what she’s supposed to do, when she’s supposed to do it.” 

Specifically this year, Bish said that she is trying new things on the court to bring success for the team while focusing on fundamentals. 

“I’d say this year, we’re definitely a hustle team,” Bish said. “We’ve got to make the plays, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but we just got to get our jobs done. When our shooting is off, it’s kind of difficult to come together, but we have to fall back on things like defense and push through.”  

Her coach and her teammates said Bish is a leader, but specifically one who doesn’t want attention from it. 

“She’s that silent leader,” Rachal said. “People see a hard work ethic in her, and they’re like ‘okay, I need to emulate that.’” 

The fact that she’s playing right now, I won’t call it a miracle, but it’s a blessing.”

— Head basketball coach Trey Rachal

After a severe back injury her freshman year, Bish said she owes her recovery success to her coaches that helped her through the experience. 

“I had a back injury early on,” Bish said. “I actually broke it my freshman year, and so they worked with me so I could get better and keep improving even when I couldn’t be on the court. They definitely just push us to give it our all no matter what.” 

Rachal said despite Bish’s injury, her perseverance kept her on the court. 

“The fact that she’s playing right now, I won’t call it a miracle, but it’s a blessing,” Rachal said. “She spent her entire sophomore year playing with a stress fracture in her back and she just battled through, and she refused to let that be the reason she didn’t play.” 

Lewis described how Bish was able to continue her leadership despite her pain. Today, she said there is no evidence of Bish’s discomfort.

“I do remember that she broke her back really, really badly,” Lewis said. “She continued to fight through and still played on our team and was still a leader. If I watched her on the court today, I would never guess she broke her back the way she sacrifices her body to take charges.”

Bish wanted to figure out how to continue playing without letting her back injury interrupt.

“She was going to figure out how to get through the year,” Rachal said. “She wanted to figure out how to do rehab and be ready to go for her junior year. I’m sure it hurts her, but we don’t know it because she’s that type of kid that’s not going to let that be an excuse.”

Bish’s coach and teammates said she leads her team through organizing workouts, team gatherings and raising spirits on the court.

“I think she has character in everything she does,” Rachal said. “I just think that she plays the game the right way, she’s respectful to her coaches or teammates, her opponents and especially the officials. She’s an extremely high character kid.”