A Kodiak Forever: Emmalee Cherweniuk

March 24, 2017 - A tribute to Emmalee, written by the ACAC. 

Emmalee Cherweniuk was living the dream.

After years of dedication and training within Calgary's club volleyball system, be it with the Canada West, ACE or 403 Selects, she was now a first-year student/athlete at Lethbridge College.

A member of the Kodiaks women's volleyball team, she was joined by her older sister Sianna.

Sianna first played in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers in 2014-2015 before heading south to the National Junior College Athletic Association, where she suited up last season for the Barton Community College Cougars in Great Bend, Kansas.

Both graduating from Calgary's Lord Beaverbrook High School, Emmalee, a setter, would be on the same court as Sianna, middle.

Emmalee was also following her passion for drawing and art, enrolled in the college's Interior Design and Technology program.

Sianna, one of four international students named to the Dean's List the year prior at Barton, was enrolled in General Studies Psychology and Sociology.

Same place.

Same space in that they were roommates.

In tune with each other.

Making it easier for parents' Jane and John to watch them continue to grow together in sport and in life.

Emmalee's stats were atypical for an ACAC rookie.

Playing in 11 matches and 23 sets, the 18 year-old had 121 assists and 11 service aces as the backup setter to Ashleigh-Dawn Noel.

Due to injury Sianna would only make it into seven matches and 11 sets.

Although not on the court, she knew her role of big sister off the court in assisting Emmalee navigating the ups and downs of post-secondary living.

"I think they really loved having each other here together," said Kodiaks women's volleyball coach Anna Schwark, 24, a Kodiaks volleyball alumnus (2013-2014) who also played National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II women's volleyball for the Coker College Cobras in Hartsville, South Carolina.

"Although they were away from home (Calgary) and Emma was outgoing, Sianna did such a great job taking care of her. She did such an amazing job."

Her first year of head coaching duties, having been an Kodiaks assistant coach for a few seasons, Schwark was impressed with Emmalee's natural approachability.

"She was the funniest and sweetest little girl," said Schwark. "She had a gift to making people laugh. From day one she was the team comedian and really knew how to make people feel better about themselves.

"If you were having a bad day, bad week or bad month…we learned quickly, even me, that she was a person that you could go to, to feel better. Funny and lovable and fun to be around to have a good time.

"She became everybody's little sister as she was the youngest on the team and everyone wanted to take care of her."

Known as "Boo Boo" to her teammates, Emmalee was always "Focused on the court," said Schwark.

"When she came in, she knew that it was her job to work hard and push everybody. That is what I respected the most about her."

Kodiaks Todd Caughlin, Manager of Athletics Residence & Recreation Services, echoes high-praise of Emmalee: "She was as a first year student/athlete but she had a demeanour about her that would have made her a future leader. She was strong. She was vibrant. She had a positive impact on everyone she came across. She was a person that you could build a program around.

"She was going to be an outstanding setter. She had the demeanour of a setter that would get the job down and hold everyone accountable to winning every game."

Born November 24, 1998, Emmalee Anne Cherweniuk died Thursday March 16, 2017 afternoon in a head on car collision 15 kilometres east of Granum, Alberta.

Granum is the smallest town in Alberta.

Emmalee had the biggest smile in Alberta.

A celebration of her life will be held Friday March 24, 2017 3 p.m at Calgary's First Alliance Church located at 12345 40 St SE.