Senior Spotlight: Frazier softball star who started PIAA petition made her voice heard

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Sunday, May 31, 2020 | 7:01 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

No one can question whether Emi Curcio’s voice was heard.

The proof lies in an online petition she set up a few months ago. One that generated a brow-raising 68,013 digital signatures.

That’s almost enough people to fill Heinz Field.

Curcio, a senior softball player at Frazier, pleaded to the PIAA to not cancel the season. She asked for them to hold off as long as they could, to wait until more information trickled in on the impact of the coronavirus before rushing into such a harsh decision.

While her plan saw a groundswell of support from across the state, the virus won out and spring sports could not escape the global pandemic.

Still, Curcio is proud of her 11th-hour efforts to try to salvage the season. Not everyone can steal home, but it’s worth a try.

“It was good to see that so many people truly care about high school sports,” Curcio said. “A lot of people also reached out to me about the petition, and with that, I was able to meet athletes from all across the state.

“I feel that the outcome was inevitable, but we did all that we could to push the final decision until there was more information.”

An outfielder who plans to play next season at Penn State Behrend, Curcio played a role in last season’s PIAA Class 2A title for the Commodores, who finished 21-4.

Curcio has overcome adversity in her life before. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 11.

“Going through that at a young age taught me to be prepared for anything and to adapt to whatever life throws at you,” she said.

And that includes missing out on so much that had to do with her senior year.

What has helped you cope with not having a senior softball season?

I came to the conclusion that we did everything possible to save the season, but it just wasn’t possible. Sometimes, things happen that are completely out of your control, and unfortunately, this was one of those things. Of course it wasn’t ideal to not have the senior season that you’ve watched the previous classes get, but it did help me to know that our seniors went out on the best possible ending to the last season.

What has been the toughest part about social distancing? Any personal issues?

I couldn’t see my friends and family for quite a while, but now that the restrictions are being lifted, life is slowly getting back to normal.

What were the expectations for this year’s team?

I can’t say anything for certain, but I believe that we would have made another run at the section, the WPIAL and the state. We had a strong freshmen class coming up that would have filled the vacancies in our lineup nicely. I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.

Do you anticipate a travel season and will you play?

Yes, but I believe that it will include a less busy schedule than past seasons. I will play for Pittsburgh Nitro Showcase-Gray.

Who is the toughest opposing pitcher you’ve gone against?

Bailey Parshall. She was dominant at Belle Vernon, and she continues to dominate at Penn State.

What was the last live pro or college sporting event you attended?

It has been a long time, but I think it was a Pirates game. I was supposed to go to Dodgers-Pirates on April 25, but it got canceled.

Were you planning to go to any concerts this summer?

My friends and I were going to get tickets to see Harry Styles. I’ve also wanted to see Journey for years, and this was the first year that I’d be able to go, but it was canceled.

Did you ever meet a celebrity?

Yes, I’ve met Jennie Finch and Richard Petty.

Favorite sports movie?

“The Sandlot.”

Favorite TV show?

“Friends.”

Best Gatorade flavor?

Fruit Punch.

What has been the recurring family meal during the quarantine?

Grilled chicken, buttered noodles, and mixed vegetables — but I’m not complaining.

Do you have any secret or unique talents or hobbies?

I’ve been playing the violin since kindergarten, but I’ve since started teaching myself to play the guitar. In quarantine, I taught myself how to juggle and pogo stick at the same time. It’s safe to say that I experienced some extreme boredom while being stuck at home for so long.

Do you have a job and have you been working?

Yes, I work at West Newton Fox’s Pizza. I’ve been working a little bit, but since I am done with school, I will be working more.

Who is the most inspirational person in your life?

My grandma, Emilene Martinak, was diagnosed with Myelodysplasic Syndrome (a rare type of blood cancer) when I was 9. She fought it for as long and as hard as she could, but she never gave up the fight. She passed in August of 2012, but she left me a letter full of valuable life advice that I still refer to when I’m feeling down.

Any funny stories about coming up in softball?

In the first game of last season’s WPIAL playoffs, we were playing Apollo-Ridge. Coach (Don) Hartman gave me a bunt sign twice, but I missed it both times. Instead, I hit a home run. I’m thankful that I did, because otherwise, I would have been in trouble.

What is one lasting memory you have from playing at Frazier?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll go with the entire experience of playing in and winning the state championship. From watching the game-ending 9-2 double play from shortstop, to arriving back at the school at 1 a.m. to a parking lot full of people with fire trucks and fireworks, the experience was unforgettable and I’ll cherish the memories for the rest of my life.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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