Introducing our newest Junior Team Possible member, Emilia Scovel. She was nominated by the amazingly kind and hard working two-time Paralympian, Cortney Jordan, who affectionately refers to Emilia as her “Mini-Me.”
Emilia and Cortney at a swim meet together. Photo Credit: G. Scovel
Since kids talk more honestly with kids, Emilia was interviewed by Nolan and Caitlin via FaceTime. When starting the interview Nolan and Caitlin reassured Emilia that this wouldn’t be just a bunch of questions, but that they could talk about lots of stuff. However, it didn’t appear that Emilia needed any reassuring. She looked fashionable for an early Sunday morning interview. In a colorful outfit accessorized with a headband and lip gloss, she smiled confidently and spun around a bit in her parent’s office chair. She was ready.
How old are you? I’m eight years old.
Nolan (10) and Caitlin (7) are excited by this answer because Emilia is between their ages. Emilia is excited because her sister, Bella, is ten. There are shouts for Bella to join us, and we are introduced to Bella on the screen.
Do you have any pets? I have a dog named Barley. He likes to cuddle under blankets.
Then, Barley makes a brief appearance to say hello and wag his tail.
What sports do you play? I swim. I play basketball, just for fun, with my dad and sister because we have a hoop in the front yard, and I used to play tennis.
What foods do you like? I like pizza. Sometimes I have it with pepperoni, and sometimes I go with plain cheese. I like tacos, too.
Nolan expresses his appreciation for pepperoni pizza, while Caitlin explains how she prefers vegetables on her pizza.
What books do you like to read? I love to read fairy tales and books about dragons. I really like Rumpelstiltskin and Puss and Boots.
“Interesting…” Nolan replies. I guess our resident book guru is pleasantly surprised with Emilia’s choices.
Disney Pixar Inside Out Characters
What movies do you like to watch? I like to watch scary and romance movies. I really like Maleficent. I also like Back to the Future and Star Wars.
Caitlin jumps in to ask an important follow up question.
Did you see Inside Out? Yes! I really liked it.
Everyone is excited to talk about their favorite characters in the movie. Emilia’s favorite characters are Joy and Disgust.
What superpowers do you have? Fashion. Keeping my dog calm. Remembering facts. I am a history lover. Every day I come home from school and say, ‘Hey Mom, I learned a new fact,’ and then I start spitting out facts about history.
Emilia’s mom, Gigi, explains further that Emilia can even remember all sorts of family events including who was there and what they were wearing. Emilia agrees and states that she even remembers times from when they lived in Malaysia. This comment solicits a surprised reaction and great interest from Nolan and Caitlin.
Emilia and her sister, Isabella, traveling in New Zealand. Photo Credit: G. Scovel
Emilia shares that for three and a half years from when she was 3 to 6 years-old, she lived with her family in Malaysia and traveled to many countries in the area including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore.
Nolan asks if she ever saw someone play a didgeridoo. Emilia thinks about it and says, “No, but I did get to pet a kangaroo and koala.” Caitlin, our resident animal lover, is very envious.
Emilia proudly holds up her Coaches Award. Photo Credit: G. Scovel
What accomplishments in sports are you most proud of? At my last meet for the summer, I got second place in breaststroke. This year I also got the Coaches Award for the Makos (her club team). The Coaches Award is when all the coaches vote for the swimmer who is the best listener and who tries very hard.
“Very impressive!” replies Nolan with admiration. Emilia smiles.
What are your ultimate sports goals? I want to swim in another Paralympic meet. I want to grow up to be like Cortney.
Nolan smiles and says, “That’s a good goal.” Caitlin adds, “I was guessing you would say something about Cortney.”
Why do you look up to Cortney? I look up to her because she has the same disability as me. We have a lot in common, and I just want to grow up to be like her.
Nolan whispers to me, “Can I tell her about Nick?” I encourage him to share Nick’s sports story.
“We have a cousin, Nick Springer, and he was in the Paralympics. He played wheelchair rugby.”
Caitlin interrupts, “He still does.”
“Well, he does still play wheelchair rugby, but in 2008 he won a gold in Beijing.” Nolan then explains how Nick contracted meningococcal meningitis at the age 14 and to save his life the doctors had to amputate his arms below the elbows and his legs above his knees. Nolan concludes, “He is amazing and he can do anything. He can even use chopsticks.”
Emilia then proudly shares how one of Cortney’s friend is also missing portions of his limbs and the amazing things he can do. She also explains how her young friend, Gracie, has gone through multiple operations to lengthen one of her legs. Gracie is only five years-old, but Emilia plans to teach her how to swim. We all wonder if Gracie will be Emilia’s “mini-me”, and if Nolan and Caitlin will get to interview her in a few years.
What makes a good teammate? Cheering each other on and teamwork like saying, ‘Yeah, let’s do that!’
What makes a good coach? What makes a good coach is someone who knows how to make the team believe in each other and makes the team do their best.
Emilia snowboarding at Wintergreen Resort. Photo Credit: G. Scovel
How do you define ability? Ability means you can mostly do anything, and you don’t need help.
“Wow!” replies Nolan.
Gigi, Emilia’s mom, elaborates by explaining that they were worried about Emilia when they were preparing to live in Malaysia. They did not know how her disability would impact her life overseas or how they would be able to meet her needs. However, Emilia was so strong nothing stopped her including a broken left foot. In Cambodia, she climbed all the steps to the temples they visited and never complained. “Nothing stops this kid,” her mom proudly states, “It is hard to tell her ‘no’.”
Emilia then shows us the braces for her left leg. She has had three braces. She was fitted with her first brace when she was a toddler, and it went up to her knee. Her second brace covered her calf and had a hinge at the ankle to allow for more movement. She explains that she got to pick out “all sorts of crazy colors” with her sister to make her brace totally unique. The third brace that she currently uses is smaller and goes just above her ankle. Nolan shares that his cousin, Stephen, has cerebral palsy and he wears a very similar brace on his right leg. Emilia smiles and adds that she and Cortney both have left sides that work differently.
What advice do you have for other young athletes? Try your best and never give up and have fun.
“I love those words!” exclaims Caitlin.
“Yeah, words of wisdom by Emilia!” declares Nolan, “She is great at this!”
Nolan and Caitlin suggest to Emilia that she should do more interviews. We are all confident that there will be many more interviews and awards in the future for Emilia.