By Soyung Jung
Even a global pandemic can’t prevent Emma Manzo from reaching for the stars. Recently, after many years of putting forth hard work and determination, Emma Manzo has been named a 12-U USA Softball All American. She has also been selected to play with 12-U Team USA at the All American Games. In August, she will be competing in the round robin tournament in Oklahoma amongst the best softball players across the country.
This is big.
When younger, Emma was a member of the East Greenwich Little League girls team that competed in the Little League Regionals in Bristol, Conn., along with last year’s 12-U All American from East Greenwich. Emma and her teammates have gone through a lot together, creating fond memories.
“One time we had a dance battle and played tic-tac-toe across the field,” said Emma. “It’s always important to create fun memories with your teammates.”
In the previous years, the team won Rhode Island state championships and competed at regional semi-finals.
Emma Manzo never lost the grit and determination she learned during those experiences and she still continues to grow.
“I’m very proud of myself. I know my family and friends are proud of me.” says Emma. “I think it’s great that I get this opportunity and to experience this with the girls. It only starts from here.” With the help of her coaches, she learned to become a student of the game. According to Emma’s father and coach, Mark Manzo, she learned to “play hard, and put her heart and soul into each game every time.”
Due to Covid-19, this year’s softball tournaments have been cancelled. “It’s unfortunate because I think we would have had a great opportunity to win this year and go again,” says Manzo. She’s very hopeful the Oklahome tourney will happen. “I don’t think it’ll be canceled. I’ve been seeing people competing and I feel pretty confident that they wouldn’t cancel such a huge tournament. It’s very important to not just me but other girls who have made it.”
Emma is just one of a team of hard working softball players.
“These girls are amazing kids who work hard and play hard,” said Mark Manzo. “It’s just unbelievable how determined and passionate they are about their sport.”
Emma’s older brother inspired her from a very young age.
“She began around the age of six, always watching her big brother play in the field,” said Mark Manzo. “Emma has been around the ball field almost her entire life. And her picking that up from her brother is truly amazing,” he said.
“I have a very good relationship with my brother,” said Emma. “He basically taught me everything I need to know by watching him play and learning all about the rules and the game.” Mark Manzo said his daughter was a great student with a great attitude and team leader to boot. “I’m very blessed as a Dad,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing her grow more and what else she’ll achieve.”
Another of her coaches, John Wasilewsk, said Emma “definitely” practices more than most girls her age.
“Emma definitely practices more than most,” Wasilewski said. “When I first coached her as a 10-U player, she had a little something that others didn’t have. I used to give her the nickname ‘Nut Job’ because that’s the way she plays.” In addition to Emma having extreme confidence, she is also “reckless, fearless, but also intelligent, and that’s what makes her so successful,” Wasilewski said. “I still call her that to this day. And it’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way she plays.”
Another of her coaches, Carlow Rodas, was not surprised she had made the USA team. “She’s one of our stronger U-12 players in our organization. There were a total of 6 who tried out for the USA Team, but only 3 made it, and it was no surprise to me that Emma made the team.” Ever since Rodas coached Emma from the age of nine, he instantly knew “she was one of those kids that just got it.”
Soon, Emma will be transitioning into high school, and Rodas believes “her leadership, hard work, and passion will go a long way to help her throughout not only in school but the rest of her life.”
He added, “This won’t be the last time to hear her name.”
Reporter Soyoung Jung is a member of the EGHS Class of 2021.