During her year on the Arizona volleyball team, the west coast road trips made Emily Bemis homesick.
The former DeKalb standout saw her teammates visit with friends and families when the Wildcats played against their Pac-12 rivals, and she remembered how much she missed the world she left. So this spring, Bemis decided to transfer to Iowa, where she’ll be only a few hours away from DeKalb.
“I had a gut feeling I wanted to stay close to home, but somehow out of all that I ended up going to Arizona,” Bemis said. “I was the only girl from the Midwest, so it was just different when we would go play USC or UCLA, all of their families are there. I just wanted to be close to home. It was a good experience, I’m definitely glad I went out there, I just wanted to be closer to home.”
Bemis talked to several schools in the Midwest during her standout career at DeKalb, but Iowa wasn’t one of them because the Hawkeyes gave out all of their allowed scholarships early in the recruiting process.
She fell in love with the Arizona campus and decided to join coach David Rubio’s team, for which she played 30 sets out of 113 and tallied 16 kills. Despite the small amount of playing time, she learned plenty during her freshman season.
“People in college, especially in strong conferences, they scout out all the teams, so you have a huge scouting report for each team,” Bemis said. “You definitely need to be smarter. It’s not where you just need to be able to hit the ball hard. Most girls there can hit the ball hard. It’s just a lot of placement and being smart, not making stupid mistakes.”
She’ll move from one of the top conferences in the country to another. Five Pac-12 teams were ranked in the top 13 at season’s end, and seven Big Ten teams were ranked in the Top 25.
While she talked to a few mid-major schools, the allure of playing in the Big Ten made Iowa the obvious choice. She’ll play against former club teammate Lauren Wicinski, who transferred from NIU to Michigan State last year, and in two years, she’ll play against her sister, Courtney, a current DeKalb senior who will head to Wisconsin in 2014.
“That’ll be fun to see [Courtney and Wicinski] in conference,” Bemis said. “I’m really excited to be in the Big Ten Conference. As soon as I found out that they wanted me, I was like ‘Yeah, that’s probably where I’m going to end up going.’ “
Iowa is coming off of a difficult season in which they went 10-23 and 2-18 in conference, and Bemis knows she’ll have an opportunity to step in and play right away for a team who needs hitters. She’ll open her career on August 30 when Iowa travels to South Carolina for the Chanticleer Invitational.
“They need more people who can put the ball away,” she said. “I talked to the coach, and I think there’s a chance to possibly start. Obviously I have to work my way towards that, but I think if I work as hard as I can, I think I’ll be able to do that.”