Matthew Thums, Steve Emt, Pamela Wilson and Batoyun Uranchimeg compete against Team Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 7, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — Not all of a Paralympic athlete’s training must be done in his or her own sport. In fact, several athletes competing at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 have found that their experiences from other sports have translated extremely well onto the snow and ice. Particularly, those who competed in those other sports while in college.
Seven of the 17 Team USA athletes who competed collegiately did so in a different sport.
For Steve Emt, the U.S. wheelchair curling team’s vice skip, that rings true of his years playing NCAA Division I basketball at the University of Connecticut, before a 1995 car accident ended his career.
“From Day 1 when I stepped on the basketball court with Coach (Jim) Calhoun and playing with those guys, as well as the academic side of it where I got a quality education, it prepared me for basically anything that came my way,” Emt said. “Then the accident happened, and I turned into a Paralympian. Everything I’m seeing here in wheelchair curling from the coaching staff is the same thing I got in college, so I didn’t skip a beat. I’ve just kept on going.”
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Emt walked onto the UConn basketball team in 1992, playing alongside the likes of Donyell Marshall, Kevin Ollie and Donny Marshall. Emt was a letter winner on the 1993-94 Huskies team that won the Big East and made it to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Hebron, Connecticut, native said the top piece of advice given to him by Calhoun remains cemented in his brain to this day: “Just give 100 percent at everything you do. You don’t know who’s looking. You don’t know who’s watching. You just give 100 percent all the time at what you’re doing, and you’ll be just fine.”
While Emt’s basketball career came to an end with his accident, he discovered wheelchair curling upon a chance meeting with a U.S. coach at a pie shop in Massachusetts in 2014 and swapped the hardcourt for the ice. Since then, he has competed in five world championships and two Paralympics.