Growing up with two older brothers never fazed Emily Heikes when it came to playing sports.
In fact, the 2001 Stagg graduate credits her successful basketball career to the bumps and bruises she endured during family pick-up games.
“I have two older brothers and they would beat up on me,” the now 27-year-old Heikes said. “I give them credit for my toughness. Any time that we would play, they didn’t hold anything back because I was younger or a girl. They were a big influence on me.
"At any family parties, we would always get a game going in the driveway. You would always bring a change of clothes because you knew you were going to get sweaty. My family was always very supportive and got me into basketball.”
Heikes went on to rewrite the girls basketball record books at Stagg.
She then played four seasons at Purdue University before playing professionally in Spain for five years.
“We never let up on her,” the 31-year-old Andy Heikes said of him and his brother Matt, 30. “She was a feisty one. She’d even play football with us. She would jump on your back and find any way to get you down.
"When someone is as tough as she was, you tend to not take it easy on her. She could definitely handle it. When Emily got older, we’d just shoot around and play horse. As she got better, she would always beat me.
"I still say, if we’re playing one-on-one, I’d make sure I won because I’m a little taller and bigger. She’s always been a hard worker and I’m not surprised by all of her success.”
Heikes Played For the Love of the Game
While the Chargers didn’t quite enjoy as much success as Heikes would’ve liked during her career, she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
The 6-foot center played three varsity seasons at Stagg and earned a spot on the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State fourth team as a junior when she averaged 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds and made the second team as a senior after averaging 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds.
“What an experience it was, playing with a great group of girls and coaches Missy Mason, Brian Ade and Sharron Ostema at Stagg,” Heikes said. “The main thing I took from the experience is the players and coaches and determination we had as a team, to set goals and try and achieve them the best we could. That is what got me to the next level.
“I didn’t have expectations for myself. I’ve always been a competitive person and always want to win, but to be honest, I just wanted to go out and play and have a good time. It was high school. I didn’t think it would be something that would lead into a collegiate career. I just wanted to play the game I love.”
Heikes still holds the program record for most blocked shots in a career (83) and rebounds in a game (26) and is tied for first in blocks in a season (39).
She once owned numerous other records since broken by 2004 graduate Heather King, who has 10 records.
“I know I’ve been knocked off the board a number of times by Heather King,” Heikes said. “She was a great player and got to play four years on varsity, which helped her.
"Of course I’m sad some records are gone, but I’m still happy to have my name up on the board and get to see it every time I walk in there. It’s something I can tell young players that if you work hard and keep developing your skills, the sky is the limit for anything you want to do.”
Heikes’ 26-rebound performance is still something that boggles her mind today.
“I was in shock,” Heikes said. “I didn’t know until the end of the game when my coach told me my stats and I was like, ‘Holy cow.’ My job as a post player is to get rebounds, but that game was almost like a blur. I don’t even remember touching the ball that many times. It was crazy because it was a ridiculous amount and is something I’m proud of doing.”