Emmie Haring settled in quickly at Fontbonne University, but it was familiar territory; she'd spent her high school years at St. Joseph's Academy, another school sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
At St. Joseph's, she was surrounded by teammates who went on to colleges with top-tier, big-budget basketball programs. Fontbonne, which plays at a lower collegiate level, proved to be a good fit for her, however.
Last month, in a game against Robert Morris University-Springfield, the senior guard broke Fontbonne's all-time career assists record of 437 set in 2001 by Melissa Steward. In the win, Haring notched a season-high 22 points, making a career-high four 3-point shots while recording six steals and eight assists. She finished the night 7-of-12 overall and 4-of-7 from long range while sinking all four free throw attempts.
Haring owns the top two records for assists in a season with 149 as a sophomore and 145 last year.
She was honored for her career assist record Jan. 7 before a home game against Robert Morris University-Peoria and had 11 assists and 10 points in the team's 73-46 win.
Maureen Sias, coach for the past three years at Fontbonne, has seen Haring develop into an outstanding basketball player whose vision on the floor is like no one else she has seen. "She's able to get the ball to her teammates, creating exciting scoring opportunities," Sias said, noting that next season "her presence on the court will be greatly missed."
"I love it," Haring said of playing at Fontbonne. "I get to play a lot. I work really hard. All the girls are so fun. I love my coach and all my teammates."
While she puts plenty of effort and focus on basketball, she describes playing at a Division III school as being less stressful than at Division I or Division II school where the stakes are higher for scholarship athletes with longer practice times and more travel. She believes she would have had less free time and would have enjoyed the experience less at an upper-division school.
St. Joseph's Academy prepared her well for college. Her high school coach, Julie Matheny, provided a blueprint for college and Haring soaked up advice from former players who visited the high school on days off from college. "I love St. Joe," she said. "The academics and athletics are almost the same atmosphere as at Fontbonne, except for being an all-girls high school."
Fontbonne has small classes, and the teachers and students know each other by name, Haring said. A sports management major, she has learned from Fontbonne athletic director Maria Buckel how the department works, much as she did at St. Joseph's with its athletic director, Maureen McVey.
Haring hopes to be a high school athletic director and plans to pursue an education degree to go along with the sports management degree.
She started playing basketball in the primary grades in a Parkway South league. "My passion for it took off," she said. "I was very driven. My older sister played, and all I wanted to do was be like her. My focus was on that because I didn't play any other sport."
Throughout high school and college, she has said a prayer to herself before each game.
"I feel that the faith that grew at St. Joe really blossomed at Fontbonne," Haring said. "I play a lot, so much better than I ever did at St. Joe. My confidence grew, and my faith has a lot to do with that."
She appreciates her Catholic education. Her father attends St. Paul Parish in Fenton, but she was raised Lutheran and attends St. John Lutheran Church in Ellisville.
Haring advises younger athletes to focus on their studies. "Basketball is fun and all, but academics should come first," she said. "Being able to manage your time is the biggest thing."
She's also a runner and plans to do a half-marathon after basketball season concludes, eventually working up to the 26.2-mile marathon distance. RELATED ARTICLE(S):FAITHFUL FAN | Dodgers gain inspirational story along with Fontbonne pitcher