Emmorey balances school, work en route to running success
On Oct. 8, Grand Valley State University inducted six athletes into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. If his credentials have any say in the matter, junior runner Tyler Emmorey could join them a few miles down the road.
A four-time All-American athlete – two times for cross-country and two times in the 3k steeplechase event for track – and 2009 GLIAC Runner of the Year, Emmorey holds GVSU records in track for the 3k steeplechase (8:55) and cross-country for the 8k (24:10).
GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes said there is no secret to Emmorey’s success.
“Tyler’s a very motivated and self-driven individual that takes ownership of his training and works very hard on a day-to-day basis to put himself in the best situation to be successful when the gun goes off,” he said.
Following a strong 2009 season capped with a top-15 finish at the NCAA Championship meet, Emmorey was named Men’s NCAA Division II Midwest Athlete of the Year. The consummate teammate, Emmorey credited Baltes, associate head coach Joe Lynn and the strength of their program with his racing success.
“We have a great group to train with and a positive environment to do it in,” he said. “Grand Valley is a great place to train, and there is strong tradition that pushes its athletes to work that much harder.”
Inside the classroom, Emmorey strives to achieve at least one All-American recognition that has eluded him – the Academic All-American. Despite a few Dean’s List nods, Emmorey said he is not “completely satisfied” with his 3.15 GPA, which lies just short of the NCAA’s required 3.25 for the All-American distinction.
“I try to get the most out of my classes, specifically the marketing ones because that’s what I’m going into,” he said.
Whether he is going to class or practice, Emmorey is always on the run. As most student-athletes can vouch, balancing a sport and full-time studies makes life busy. Naturally, balancing two sports adds to that burden. Toss in a double major of marketing and finance and – for a change of pace – working 10 hours a week for a Grand Rapids industrial supplier, and you start to scratch the surface of just how busy Emmorey’s life can get.
“Most of our athletes are on minimal scholarships, so they have got to find ways to pay for school, whether it’s in loans or getting the part-time job,” Baltes said. “That’s something Tyler’s taken upon himself and works hard in all aspects to make his way through college.”
Emmorey said lacking free time works in his favor because he gets more done when forced to budget his time.
“Running and practice is actually my break from the other stuff,” he added.
Still, Emmorey said there are times – once or twice already this semester – when the culmination of responsibilities has overwhelmed him.
“It seems like everything hits me at once, and all the teachers assign exams on the same day, and we’ll also have a race that weekend, and I still have to get my hours in at work,” he said. “I relate it to running. You’ve just got to persevere through it. You know you’re going to get through it. You have to remind yourself of that and you just got to stick it out.”
Emmorey will get a chance to bolster his hall of fame candidacy on Dec. 4 when he hopes to add a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championship meet to his list of accolades. Fortunately for Emmorey, the meet will take place in Louisville, Ky., at the same course where he initially set the school 8k record.
Despite his individual successes, Emmorey said his chief goal is helping his team secure the school’s first national championship in cross-country – no small task with the talent of the top teams.
“I think the top-five teams in the nation are all equal,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle at nationals. I think whoever gets fifth could have just as easily been first. But fifth place doesn’t get a trophy.”