Emily Heikes hoped to lead Stagg to its first state basketball appearance during her high school career.
It didn’t work out that way, but she got to enjoy plenty of championships during her four years on the Purdue University women’s basketball team.
“Every year except my senior season, we won some kind of championship,” said Heikes, a 2001 Stagg graduate. “We didn’t get to go down state in high school, which was our goal, but being able to cut down the nets and having confetti falling on you after winning Big Ten championships and wearing the hats and T-shirts was just an unbelievable feeling.”
The Boilermakers won the Big Ten championship when Heikes was a freshman and then won the Big Ten Tournament title the next two seasons.
The year before Heikes arrived in West Lafayette, Purdue lost to rival Notre Dame 62-60 in the national championship game.
“There are no words to describe my career at Purdue,” said Heikes, who moved to Connecticut in May for her job as an adjuster at Amica Mutual Insurance. “I’ve been out almost six years and I still miss playing there. I made great friends throughout my basketball career in high school and college.”
Purdue participated in the NCAA Tournament all four seasons Heikes was there, including reaching the Elite Eight in 2003 and Sweet 16 in 2004.
Heikes, who helps coach the Southside Shooters when she’s back home, led the team in rebounding as a junior and senior and was a captain her final season.
“It was an awesome honor to be a captain,” Heikes said. “Trying to lead a group of younger girls is difficult and you have bumps in the road, but you try to lead by example. I got that kind of direction when I was younger and tried to pass the torch and do everything I could to help others.”
After graduating from Purdue, Heikes played professionally in Spain for five seasons.
“It’s tough getting thrown into a different culture, but I was fortunate to have the opportunity,” Heikes said. “It’s almost a whole different world. I was nervous at first. They don’t speak much English over there and the only Spanish I knew was from high school.
"It was difficult at times, but I picked up on things pretty quickly around the city and from my teammates. My comfort zone was on the court because basketball is a universal sport. I enjoyed my time over there.”