The ‘M’ in team

By Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Madilyn Emter, right, hugs former assistat coach Sherri Campbell after the girls’ state golf meet in Billings. Campbell retired after the season, and Emter had wrapped up her final sporting event as as Sweet Grass County Herder (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer).

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series featuring the male and female athletes of the year for Sweet Grass County sports. 

Madilyn Emter has been nominated for the female athlete of the year, while Casey Gunlikson has been nominated as the male athlete of the year. For his feature, pick up a copy of last week’s Pioneer at the office.

Madilyn Emter has always been a competitive spirit. She had to be, growing up the youngest of four brothers and sisters under her parents’ roof in Reed Point. Being the youngest means a lot of things, depending on where you’re from. Sometimes, it’s getting second or third-generation hand-me-downs, or getting the short end of your parents’ patience.

For Emter, it was an opportunity to fight; a chance to win and compete off the court or course. 

A recently graduated senior from Sweet Grass County High School, Emter fulfilled the role of senior leadership and was statistically phenomenal throughout her final year in Herder blue and white. She led the volleyball team in a handful of statistical categories, helped champion the girls’ basketball team through a roller coaster season, and capped off her athletic career at the state golf meet. But that drive for competition and hunger to win started early on in her developmental years.

“My parents always tell me this story, about one Halloween and there was a house giving out one giant candy bar,” Emter said. “And I shoved and pushed my way to the front of the line to get it.”

She had to compete. Always. And she ended up better because of it. 

“I’ve always played on a team with my siblings, and it was fun,” Emter said. “And I’ve always wanted to be better than them, in a good way. If anything, it made [our relationships] better.

“We worked, we never did fight though. If we did, my parents would stop it pretty soon and make us go work or something. We’d play fort, we’d play school, we’d play everything. And especially since we’re close in age, it made it better.”

Madilyn’s mother, Jackie Emter, said she’s “wild by nature.” From the moment she was born — in a cabin in the words just outside Reed Point — to her passion for being out on the slopes in the winter; from her summer labor as a ranch hand, for both other hires and her own family.

Jackie remembers a specific time where she watched Madilyn execute that competitive, driving force that also helped her blossom into a mature athlete not long after.

“[Madilyn] and her sister were out chopping wood one day, and as I was walking up, I could hear them bickering back and forth,” Jackie said. “And they were going at it, and they wood was being tossed into a pile, and there was a duck quacking along right there with them, like it was in the fight, too. And when I asked them to knock it off, they both turned to me in unison and said, ‘Shut up mom!’

And thinking back, it was so funny. But in that moment, her and her sister were a unified team, with one common enemy: Me.”

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