Times Staff Reporter
A serious knee injury wasn't enough to derail a Northview senior from accomplishing her goal of playing collegiate softball.
Accompanied by members of her family and coaches, Emily Phillips signed a letter-of-intent to play softball at Olney Central College, a community college in Olney, Illinois. The agreement was made at 11 a.m. in the Media Center of Northview High School.
Phillips, a three-year starter for the Knights, said she was "very excited" for the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
Phillips said she chose Olney Central because it provided her the best educational opportunities of all the schools she looked into. She plans to major in Nursing.
Olney Central coach Nick Short attended the signing personally and said he believed Phillips would be a welcome addition to the Blue Knights squad.
"There's a lot to like (about Emily)," Short said. "She's athletic and she's versatile. She has everything I look for in an athlete and I'm glad I got her."
Last season for the Knights, Phillips hit at a .351 clip in 57 at-bats. She scored 16 times for Northview and slugged .561 with eight extra base hits and struckout just eight times while reaching base more than 40 percent of the time.
Sitting by Phillips' side as she signed her commitment papers was her father, Tim and her younger sister, Sarah. Emily said the presence of her family "definitely meant a lot."
Tim Phillips expressed a great deal of pride towards his daughter for how she conducted herself both on and off the diamond.
"It doesn't matter what she does, I'm always proud of her," Phillips said. "She makes good choices in everything she does."
The joyous occasion of Thursday morning didn't come without a scare. Phillips, who also started on the Northview girls basketball team, suffered a torn ACL in a December practice, which will cause her to miss most of, if not her entire senior season.
Despite the setback, Phillips said she maintained consistent contact with Short and other people within the Olney Central program, who assured her she would have a slot of their roster when she recovered.
"(Coach Short) has kept in great contact with me since my injury," said Phillips, who said she is hoping to return to the Knights in time for sectional play. "I was scared I may lose my chance to play, but luckily everything has worked out."
Phillips said she believed another contributing factor in Olney Central's continued interest was that she would be able to return in time to play in summer league even if she didn't make it back in time to help the Knights in postseason play. She said she was confident she'd get ample opportunity to hone her skills before taking them to the next level of competition.
Phillips wrapped up the occasion with a simple declaration expressing her eagerness to continue her softball career.
"I'm just really excited," Phillips said. "I'm ready to play softball in college."