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Ready to free fall, Spartan Spotlight with Emily Bigger

Emily Bigger made an interesting confession about a week ago.

"I have always wanted to go skydiving in Australia," said the St. Joseph-Ogden senior whose hobbies include hanging out with friends and traveling to many places - and likely skydiving sometime in the future.

The admission, which she referred to as a 'fun fact', came out after The Sentinel asked her to name a few places she would enjoy traveling to visit. For her beaches and skydiving nearly goes hand in hand. Her number two choice is a trip to a group of islands close to 500 miles north of Brisbane called the Whitsunday Islands.

"It has a beautiful beach to skydive near," Bigger said. The member of the 2019 third-place state volleyball team longs for the day when she can visit the land Down Under. "I have always enjoyed talking in an Australian accent and listening to others talk in the accent. I also think it is a beautiful place, and it would be awesome to see the kangaroos and koalas.

Pristine sandy beaches out woop woop with a couple of slabs and hot barbie sounds bloody sick right now. Especially with this weekend's forecast locally calling for overnight temperatures in the lower 30s.

"I believe that it has slowed everything down. This quarantine shows how busy our schedules were. Now, families are able to spend more time together watching movies, playing games, doing puzzles, and eating dinner together."
According to her mother, Melissa, her daughter has never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane ... at least not yet. There is no chance that skydiving will be a mother-daughter bonding experience either. "100%. No!"

The other two places at the top of Bigger's list are Vaitape in Bora Bora, another island retreat, and Dubai.

"I want to stay in one of the huts that are above the ocean," she explained talking about Bora Bora. As for the United Arab Emirates destination, there is one place that is a must-visit for her. "I want to go to the top of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa."

After high school, Bigger plans to attend Parkland College and is undecided on her major.

Inspired by a popular television medical drama, her dream job would to become a surgeon.

"I have watched Grey's Anatomy for the longest time and love watching them save people’s lives," Bigger said. "My dream job would be a trauma surgeon."

Ideally, she would work and live in a city in the southern part of the United States where it warmer more months out of the year than in her hometown of St. Joseph. But, there is just one small problem.

"Another fun fact about me is I can’t deal with blood very well," she admitted. "So that job will forever be a dream of mine, not a reality."

She had one dream - winning a state title for SJO - nearly come true last fall. The veteran setter helped the Spartan volleyball team reach the Class 2A final four in November thanks to an upset victory in Palos Heights. What the casual fan may not had noticed during the supersectional match against Chicago Christian was match was how much of nervous wreck Bigger was going into that match.

For a young woman who wants to jump out of an airplane at 13,000 or so feet and accelerate 9.8 meters per second squared toward earth, Bigger said on a 1-10 anxiety scale, the match against the Knights was easily a 10.

Emily's advice to future SJO students is to appreciate all of the little moments, and to participate in as many activities as you can.

"I was nervous from the beginning. I was physically sick and had thrown up six times earlier in the day. I didn’t want to let my team down," she explained. "Then, walking into the packed gym, seeing their team, and seeing how tall they were made it even more nerve-racking."

With the offense revolving around Bigger, who tallied 26 assists and 16 digs against the Knight, the Spartans rebounded from a first set loss to take the last two in a gritty, knock-down, drag'm out.

Then it was on the state tournament. Looking back at the state semifinal against Breese Mater Dei at Redbird Arena, she said it was nearly as stressful as the previous weekend's match against Chicago Christian. The importance of notching the opening match at state was not lost upon her.

"Winning it (the semifinal match) got us to the championship game, but (it was) not as stressful as the last game," Bigger said. "We had made it to state, but we still knew we had to fight our way to the end."

Valiantly, SJO rolled with the punches in yet another three-setter. After dropping the first set 25-20, Bigger and the Spartans played a scrappy game to force a third set, 25-23. After tying the final set at 21-all, a final momentum swing in favor of their opponent forced a 25-22 loss.

"The third place game was my last volleyball game ever so I didn’t find it very stressful," she said, summing up her state final experience. "I would say probably a six because I just wanted to go out and play my hardest but have fun too - and of course, win!."

Bigger, who started playing volleyball in the fourth grade, played the sport all four years of high school. Also a member of the Maroon Platoon, she was inducted into the National Honor Society as well as participated in FCA, Spanish Club and AMP.

"I love the excitement of long rallies - especially winning them, the environment with the gym filled with our fans, and the bonds built with my teammates and coaches," Bigger said about the sport.

The friendships and her relationships with her volleyball teammates is special.

"Katelyn Berry can always put a smile on my face," she said. "I can be in the worst mood, and this girl knows how to make me laugh just by doing the littlest things, sometimes not even trying to be funny."

Bigger tell us her favorite classes at SJO were Physics with Mr. Robert Glazier and English with one of her favorite teachers, Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer.

"Mrs. Lindenmeyer is one of my favorite teachers because she cares for us not only as students but as people outside of her classroom," she said. "She pays attention to each student, knows if we are going through a hard time, and offers her support if we need to talk to someone."

Bigger said going to her English class was rather enjoyable because the time spent in the classroom was not spent just schoolwork and academics.

"Honestly, fourth hour was her favorite, too," she said. "We listened to her rant about her day or what she was going through. It felt like a big support system for us and her," As for the class itself, I enjoyed it because I learned so much about myself as a writer and actually learned to enjoy writing essays,for the most part, not the 11-page one."

Her other favorite instructors in high school was Mr. Marshall Schacht and she also enjoy her time in the classroom with Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School.

What else do you need to know about senior Emily Bigger?

She can’t live without ice cream. "That is a must" in her life.

"I also need Netflix/Hulu to binge watch shows and chocolate milk."

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