It’s still easy to see Emily Wheeler as a 5th or 6th grader with a basketball in her hands at the Robert V. Antonucci Field House hoisting up shots at halftime or after games. Back in those days, she seemed to live in a gym and played tons and tons of ball, just because she loved it. As she got older she earned her way onto the varsity basketball and softball teams, and this year, as a senior, she’s had her most productive seasons yet.
Wheeler came off the bench for the FHS girls’ hoops team and was the ultimate heat check shooter for FHS. When she was on she helped the Clippers immensely and played a big role in several victories along the way to qualifying for the state tournament. This spring, for the softball team, she’s been playing her best ball.
“She’s been an asset to the team, both on and off the field, with the energy she brings to the team,” coach Amy Bruce said.
Emily is the daughter of George and Sarah Wheeler, and has two siblings, James and Devon. Her favorite subject in school is child development, and her phone is her most-prized possession.
Emily said that her go-to meal is pasta with meat sauce, with garlic bread and a Sprite. Emily said that “Grace” is her favorite movie and “The 100” is her favorite TV show. Post Malone is her favorite recording artist.
How did you get involved with softball? How much do you enjoy it?
I got involved with softball from my friends. They asked if I wanted to come and try out for the new softball program run by Jeff Cutter and Amy Bruce and I said, “Sure, why not.” It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have continued to play ever since.
You’ve been a part of a softball resurgence in Falmouth. What has it been like to be a part of, and watch, the program become a very competitive one after years of struggling?
I have been very proud to be a part of the growing softball program. Before we came up there was no softball program. I remember when I was in 5th grade and had Mr. Falcone as a teacher and he would talk about how they could never win a game, I would look forward to the time that me and my friends would play for the high school team and actually be skilled at the sport.
The season has had its ups and downs so far. What do you think it will take for the Clippers to make the state tournament? What do you see your role as being in that run?
I think our team this year is very different than what we had expected. I came into this season thinking that we were going to be the best and that we had the potential to be unstoppable. We all had played together for so long, and our defense was supposed to be the highlight of our team, but nowadays it is our errors on defense prohibiting us from succeeding at the rate that I know that we can if we just fix up a few things, because our hitting has been coming along and progressing very well throughout the year. My role in this process is hitting; my defense has been pretty solid throughout the season, but I think it is important for me to continue to work on my hitting and not be thinking too much when I am in the box.
You also played basketball at Falmouth High. What was that experience like for you?
Basketball has been an extremely special experience in my life. I think it has not only helped me grow in my skill range, but also as a person. My freshman year I came in playing on JV, along with my sophomore year, which was one of the best times of my life. My junior year I was on varsity, but I did not play much and struggled mentally.
My senior year was very different than what I had expected coming in. At first it was a struggle, because most of my friends that I had played with since 5th grade had stopped playing and I was unsure about what my role was, and honestly expected that I was going to sit on the bench like junior year. Instead I decided that I would work hard on my skills and hopefully get some sort of playing time. This worked and I ended up being more of an offensive threat than I, or really anyone, had expected. There would be games when we were down by a little and needed a momentum swing and I would hit a 3 to boost the energy. The opposing team never really looked at me as a threat, but I would always go in and do my best to help my team.
With both programs you’ve seen your playing time and role with the team grow as a senior. What has it been like to become one of the more depended upon players?
Honestly it is very honoring and a privilege in my life. I feel like it is a responsibility to be one of the players that might not be a leader but is always someone who anyone on the team can go to and talk to. I love the feeling of hitting a 3 and having the crowd and my team go crazy for basketball, or when there are two outs in a big game for softball and I make an amazing catch that maybe even I didn’t think I could make. I have loved every team that I have played on and especially this year the two teams that I played on will always have a special place in my heart.
What do you think a scouting report would say about you?
I have started in left field since freshman year, and I feel like I have been a very reliable defender. Also when it comes to hitting I am a extremely reliable bunter. This is kind of surprising because I am not very fast, but sometimes I am able to get it just right so I advance the runners and make it on base—but I am normally used for a sacrifice to advance the runners.
Since freshman year I have had a lot of success with my defense in left field. I have been very reliable and most games that I play in I don’t normally make errors, and when I do they are very few, and I always tend to make up for it on the next play.
Something on my scouting report that might need to be improved on is my hitting, but my senior year so far has going okay in that direction. It is streaky, and I definitely think there is always room for improvement.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be? Why?
I would go back all the way to the summer of 2013. That year I played on a summer team called, I believe, the Salmon, and during one of the weekends we were playing in the Riptide Tournament. During the first day, Saturday, we lost literally every single one of our games, but the next day we ended up winning every game and going on to win the entire tournament. This was the first real time that our team really begun to win. No one thought that we would win, not even us, but we defied everyone else’s expectations and won the whole thing. I was so proud and I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing group that I am a part of to this day. So, if I could go back to a game, I would go back to those ones, because we proved that we could win.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
The highlight of my athletic career would probably be making varsity my freshman year. I was so proud of myself making varsity my freshman year and starting in left field. I felt like this is what I was working towards when I was little in rec league, and it felt like all my hard work was paying off. Especially being able to make tournament my freshman year for the first time in 14 or 15 years—something like that. That meant that the last time that the Falmouth High School girls’ softball team made the tournament was when I was a newborn baby, maybe 1 year old. It was extremely rewarding to be a part of that success.
Who is the best teammate that you’ve ever played with? What makes that person stand out?
This is a hard question to answer because I don’t want to really specify. I think that in my high school career I have played with many great players, Kathleen Desmond to name one. I can’t really narrow it down to one. I love all of my teammates. But the two that I have known for the longest would probably be Katie and Kayla Balbuena. They have been some of the closest friends I have ever had. They have always been there for me and we have grown so much during our time together. They always not only know how to cheer me up when I am having a bad day, but they are two of the most energetic and nice girls I have ever met. If the team needs energy, they are right there to provide that support. They also are always positive no matter what. This is why I would have to say that they are the best teammates I’ve ever played with.
Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?
Yes, I do. I have to always throw with Abby Broussard during warm-ups. I also have to loop my bat twice before each pitch. I also have to do a dance with center fielder Madi Lima—we pump our leg and our arms in sync. We probably look really funny because neither one of us can really do it. After the second out, Madi Lima has to throw a “ball” in the air and I have to catch it. Again, we probably look really funny, but we do it after every out, and we can’t forget because it will bring bad luck.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
The most important thing that I have learned from playing sports is that you can accomplish anything when you work hard. Bob Buscher told me—I think in 7th grade—this quote and it was “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” When you think about that quote, you see how much truth is in it. You can be the most talented person at anything, but if you don’t put in the work or time then the person working four times harder than you will be the one who succeeds in the long run.
Who has been your inspiration?
Alexa Franco has definitely been an inspiration in my life. She has been there during the hardest time in my life, and even in the best times in my life. She has taught me to not be afraid to ask for help when struggling, to always be humble, to never give up, to always keep myself focused on Jesus—and to win, of course. She is one of the best people I know and I aspire to be half the person that she is.
Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
First, I want to thank my coaches, Ashley Kelly and especially Amy Bruce. Amy has been my softball coach all my life, except for freshman year, and has taught me everything that I know about softball. She is the best coach that I have ever had in my lifetime. We have built a solid relationship over the years and I am so happy that I am able to play for her team. Also my team has been a huge part of what I do as an athlete; without them backing me up and helping me with what I need I wouldn’t be at the place I am now. I also would like to thank my family for always being here for me and taking time out of their days to come and watch me play. Two others that I would like to thank are, again, Alexa Franco and Brittany Feldott. The pair have been through everything with me, and I am so grateful for them and all the knowledge they have blessed me with throughout the years.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited? Is there somewhere in the world that you’ve always dreamed of going? Why?
The most interesting place that I have ever visited is probably Pennsylvania. I find it fascinating that when we live on Cape Cod we think it is just like the rest of the world when in fact it is so different, sometimes the polar opposite. If I had the chance to go anywhere in the world I would probably visit Norway. I have always wanted to see the aurora borealis, better known as the northern lights. I also love mountains, rivers, and waterfalls, so I think I would have a great time in Norway.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
The biggest difference from freshman to senior year is that I took the time in high school for granted. I thought that senior year was so far away, and that I never had to think about playing my last games, but now that that time is coming I wish I spent my time not looking to the future, but focusing on what is happening in my life right now. The difference now as a senior is I don’t spend most of my time looking at the future. It is important to focus on what is happening in my life now, because I have to enjoy these moments so I think that is one of my biggest changes.
If I could give some advice to myself it would definitely be to stop thinking about everything too much, and to just let life happen. Also I think that I would tell myself to not be afraid of the future, and to ask for help when I need it. I’m really stubborn, so when I need help with something I won’t ask and I’ll try to fix it on my own, which never works.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
Something that people might be surprised to learn about me would probably be that I can bunt really well. I am not fast and I bat in the lineup in a spot that a person shouldn’t be able to bunt as well as I do. If I didn’t focus too much then I think I would get on base a lot more when I bunt, but I most definitely advance the runners when I put down a bunt.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
If I could switch places with anyone for one week I would probably switch places with Hermione Granger from Harry Potter—or Emma Watson, the actor that plays Hermione. I love Harry Potter, so being able to live in that world for a day would be pretty amazing.
Describe your idea of the perfect day.
My perfect day is probably sleeping in and than going out with my church friends, and going shopping or to the movies, or just finding fun things to do with my friends. Then going to the beach and watching the sunset. Then probably going out to eat and then playing board games with a fire going outside. I feel like that would be a really nice day.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be attending Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, where I will hopefully be pursuing basketball and softball. This is not for sure yet, but hopefully it will happen. I plan on studying secondary education and taking classes on religion online so I can become a teacher and teach in Maine.
Where will you be in 10 years, and what will you be doing?
In 10 years I don’t really know where I will be. Hopefully I will have graduated college and have become debt free. I am interested in ministry work, so I might get into something like that. I will also have my teaching degree and have taught in some sort of school while doing some ministry on the side. I am very excited to see what God’s plan for my life is and where that takes me.