PERRY — When Emily Isaacson was a freshman on the Box Elder High girls basketball team, she suited up with the rest of the projected bench players for the Purple and White Game, the team’s annual preseason scrimmage.
At the time, everyone thought Isaacson would come off the bench that season. The bench players beat the starters and Isaacson became a starter pretty much just like that.
“I remember going and watching in like seventh, eighth grade. I’d always go and watch, I remember watching Keslee (Stevenson) play. ‘I want to be out there playing,’” Isaacson said.
“My first start, I was so pumped. They announced my name, I think I got to throw a shirt or something. It was something fun, I don’t know.”
Isaacson played multiple sports at BEHS — volleyball, basketball, track and field — but she was such a Swiss Army Knife that, ironically, her first sports love is softball, her favorite high school sports moment is being part of the 2017 state championship volleyball team, and starting this fall she’s going to play college ... basketball.
“That’s what I was just talking to my mom about yesterday. ‘If you could change it and win state basketball, would you?’ and I was like, ‘No,’” Isaacson said.
Isaacson is the 2019 Standard-Examiner Prep Female Athlete of the Year.
In the 2018-19 school year, the Bees’ Region 5-championship volleyball team finished third at the state tournament, she was the leading scoring on the basketball team that also won a region title and Isaacson threw the javelin for the region title-winning track and field team.
Until she quit softball after her freshman year, that was the sport she worked on the most from around the fourth grade until her freshman year, according to her father, Dave.
Emily’s mother, Ginger, said Dave even learned how to pitch so he could throw batting practice to Emily.
After she went to a club basketball tournament, then basketball became the thing she focused on the most.
“I’ve always worked on basketball more than volleyball. It’s easier to go out and shoot hoops, whereas volleyball you have to have a partner to pepper with, or a net to hit and stuff,” Emily said.
Dave Isaacson played basketball at Ricks College, then Utah State from 1996-98. He’s 6-foot-7, so it’s not hard to see who Emily gets her height (she’s 5-foot-11) from.
Emily was taller than many post players and could really play anywhere on the court. That showed when she averaged team highs of 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks per game in 2018-19.
She put up similar numbers her junior year and teams knew they’d have to focus on her defensively. Only three teams held her under double-digit scoring numbers in the 2018-19 season.
It seems all she knew in high school was winning.
Isaacson was a part of the volleyball team that won the 2017 state title and back-to-back region titles in 2017 and 2018, the 2017 and 2019 region champion basketball teams, and the track team that’s won three straight region titles (and even more before she got there).
“Honestly, I feel like playing two or three sports helped me in my other sports. For instance, blocking in volleyball. I feel like with the timing, blocking a basketball. Or throwing a softball, throwing those long-court passes on a basketball court. I feel like a lot of things transfer over,” she said.
It also helped keep her fresh, mentally. When she was a freshman, she was trying to juggle high school sports as well as club sports all at the same time. It was too busy, so she decided to focus on basketball and volleyball.
Perhaps more impressive than success in three sports was the fact that Isaacson started every single basketball game over her four years at the varsity level.
“My mom makes me do yoga for my ankles. I feel like there’s something to be said about that,” she said, adding that she’s always been a healthy eater as well.
Isaacson is going to play basketball at Dixie State starting this fall. She said that DSU head coach JD Gustin hasn’t discussed what position Isaacson will play in college.
It’s a good thing she can do everything, then.