by Steev Riccardo
“I think everything she has earned she deserves. She is an incredibly hard worker, she's focused, and she is incredibly coachable. I think all those things together make Emily the great athlete that she is.”
-Oxford High School Track Coach Andrew Martin
It could have been an extremely difficult decision picking the View Super Team Athlete of the Year if they were only 11 candidates, but there was a 12th candidate who just happened to get invited, not to a State Tournament, not the New England tournament, but the National tournament!
We are, of course, talking about Oxford High School junior Emily Dawidczyk, who is clearly our choice for high school athlete of the year. Believe me, when I say this is definitely not a knock on the other 11 super team members, who are all in their own right superb student-athletes, but what Dawidczyk has accomplished this season has been truly incredible.
In only took me about two minutes upon meeting Dawidczyk a few months back to come up with the moniker “The Sweet Assassin.” She is a fierce competitor on the field and the track, and as sweet as a bowl of honey off the track and the field.
Getting an invitation to the National Outdoor Track and Field tournament was only the icing on the cake for what has been an unforgettable year for the junior.
She started the year off with another superb soccer season, which earned her a nod on the Central Mass All-Star team; she then dominated in indoor track and received another Central Mass all-star spot, and then topped off her junior year with perhaps the most amazing season of them all, blowing people away in three different events in her league, in Central Mass, in the State, and incredibly enough, in the New England tournament. These are only her high school accomplishments; she is also the captain and leading scorer on her traveling club soccer team.
“The Sweet Assassin”, still only a junior, is already mentioned in the same breath as Oxford hall of fame athletes like Carla Berube and Billy Herrion. She is, simply put, one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Oxford High School. Amazingly enough, she has one year of high school left.
“She is definitely the best athlete that I have ever coached,” said Martin, one of her two track coaches along with Tim Craig. “It's easy to be happy with being good and being the best in the Southern Worcester County League, but she isn't and that really is what helps her achieve. She was the only one left from her team and she went through two or three weeks of practice with coach Craig and myself because she wanted to do it.”
“Obviously there is a component of natural talent that she has, however you cannot go as far as she has with just natural talent. A lot of it is the fact that she is coachable in all those other things that I just mentioned. I think that she is a great role model for the younger athletes in this school and in the middle school because of her work ethic.”
“She does everything the right way. If I had a team of 11 Emily's, I would go undefeated every year and I am not even talking about talent wise, I am talking about work-ethic wise. I think she is a role model, I think she works hard and I think she deserves everything that she achieves.”
Craig agrees wholeheartedly with his counterpart, “She is the best track and field athlete, girls and boys, that I have coached; she has a year left and she wants to work hard and I think she is going to continue to set records.”
“She was absolutely fantastic at the state-qualifying meet. She was doing three individual events, the order of the events was not that conducive to her. The 100-meter hurdles and the 200, due to the fact that she had to run trials for both, and then got a ton of rest, but she stuck with it and set a meet record in the 100-meter hurdles and almost a meet record in the 200, but by then she was a little tired and still finished second in the long jump.”
Imagine, she finished second in the state. That is what it’s all about with “The Sweet Assassin;” it’s about breaking records and even breaking her own school records. This is what drives her and will continue to make her the best at what she does.
“For me it’s records, I want to keep bettering my time. When I got to the New England’s I just wanted my best time and I got it,” said Dawidczyk.
It wasn’t easy either. She had to deal with injuries such as back problem most of the outdoor season.
“Going into the State qualifiers, you want to get better, but for me it was way back before that, it was important to stay healthy. Getting rest was really important for me and it helped.”
“My back starting acting up during the season and my coaches were really good about it and told me to take it easy. They understood that I needed to go far into post season, that is my season.”
She knew that if her back bothered her even “a tiny bit” she had to rest it. Despite that, she still never lost a race until the state tournament, when she came in second and third respectively in the 100-meter hurdles and the 200 meters.
This year was Dawidczyk’s third year at the state tournament and each year she has been the only Oxford athlete to make it. She said jokingly, “Yeah I was practicing by myself with my two coaches.”
“They are so supportive, they calm me down when I am nervous, their goals are similar to my goals and they really listen to what my goals are.”
The New England Tournament was something new for Dawidczyk and once the thrill and excitement of it all settled in, it was business as usual.
“Getting there and seeing the amount of people that were there and how much they liked track just as much as I did, and the competitive field there was amazing. All the girls were there to win and the atmosphere was really nice. After I realized my time and I came in second, I was on a high. From that, tons of things go through your head. I think for me it was important to say that I accomplished this and I qualified for something as big as Nationals.”
Oxford High School Athletic Director John Dooldorian is as impressed as anyone about what Dawidczyk has accomplished. “Obviously, anytime anyone gets the invitation to the Nationals it’s special. Her work ethic has been great and she really did a great job and so did her coaches of getting her to peak right at the right time. Her best times came at her last couple meets.”
“As far as what it means to the building,” said Doldoorian. “I think it’s a sense of pride that we finally had someone invited to the Nationals; it hasn’t happened before. The ability in knowing that we had one of our athletes qualify for the Nationals is very special. The national stage is very different, being recognized like that has opened a lot of doors for her in regards to college recruiting. Being the athlete that she is, she is going to have a lot of decisions to make. Her track abilities warrant attention from scholarship schools and her soccer abilities warrant attention from scholarship schools”.
Despite these amazing accomplishments in track and field, remarkably enough, soccer has and still plays a huge role in her life.
She started playing soccer when she was 5 or 6 years old and was on club teams by the time she was 10. She followed in her sister Maggie’s footsteps, who went on to play in college. Her dad John was also a soccer player in high school, while her mom Patricia is where the track roots come from.
“To me playing soccer is a little different because it is a contact sport. Playing from such a young age and getting into premier teams, the competition is a little bit more aggressive. You have to be aggressive. I am very competitive, but I don’t get mean, it’s just the way I play soccer.”
She is coached by Dung Nyugen at Oxford and has high hopes to not only repeat her individual successes but also improve as a team in her senior year. “Hopefully as a team we can have a great season and get to Districts next season. For me personally it’s just being part of the team.”
Someone who has been along Dawidczyk’s side from the beginning is her cousin, best friend, and teammate Oxford High School junior Gina Manzi.
“We first started playing soccer together in the peewee league. I started a couple years after her and we have been playing soccer together on the same team ever since then. We have played high school soccer together, we played on the youth league together, and we played club soccer together.
“It's been really good, I really like playing with her, she's one of my very close friends and we are always on the field together and we play really well together,” said Manzi.
“She is so humble about all the things that she has done, she knows no one has done it and she goes out and does it and never makes a big fuss about it. She is always really into it and really works hard, she really deserves it.”
Manzi was not surprised that Dawidczyk was invited to the Nationals. She said that she always knew that she could do this. “She's talented and she works really hard, obviously she has natural talent but she goes to every single practice and she's never down, she is always working 100% in every single practice. I could tell, and everyone else could tell, that she's just going to keep going and going and going.”
Other Oxford athletes are also fans of Dawidczyk, including baseball/football standout Nick Bruzious, who said “Emily is an incredible athlete, she would definitely beat me in a race, which is why I would never race her. We all enjoy watching her race, and we enjoy watching her break away from the crowd and take bets on who is going to finish second.”
Oxford Principal Kevin Wells, who was an athlete at Oxford and coached both at the high school and college levels, is proud to have Dawidczyk at the Oxford High.
“Emily is a young lady who is outstanding both in the classroom and on the athletics field and certainly, as we have just found out, being second in New England and third in all of New England, an outstanding track athlete. She works exceptionally hard at her studies. It’s always a primary focus. She is hoping to go into nursing and go to nursing school. She understands that it is a game, she loves the game, she loves to compete, she has a competitive spirit about her both in the classroom and on the track, as well as the soccer field.”
“She’s all in everything that she does and she’s just a great kid, she is a pleasure to have at Oxford High School. She comes from a great family with a great support network. She is the epitome of what a great athlete should be because she is right at the top.”
In will be interesting to see how things play out for Dawidczyk with another year of high school in front of her. Perhaps she should take the advice of athletic director Doldoorian who said, “The thing that I hope for Emily right now is that she relaxes and enjoys the attention that she is going to get. She should take it as a compliment, her family should take it as a compliment. It shouldn’t become something that becomes worrisome, it should be a real positive feeling that this is happening to her.”
“I need to do some soul searching this summer and decide where I am going.” said Dawidczyk. “As far as sports goes, I know I want to do something in college. I am not exactly sure what sport that I am going to choose right now, depending on where I go, I could do both.”
“For me education is first, no matter what, I just want to go to the best place I can go and get the best nursing degree and get the best education that I can get, and hopefully still be on a good athletic team.”
Until then, we get to watch this great student athlete compete locally for another year. How awesome is that?
Emily Dawidczyk, “The Sweet Assassin”, The View from the Sidelines Athlete of the Year.