7 state titles, 3 sports, and 1 talented Providence Day athlete
Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

7 state titles, 3 sports, and 1 talented Providence Day athlete

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/16/16/37/RgN4i.Em.138.jpeg|209
    Providence Day goalkeeper Emma Pixley helped the girls’ soccer team win its first state title last season. The senior has won seven state titles in three sports at Providence Day.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/16/16/37/rzH3L.Em.138.jpeg|449
    Providence Day’s Emma Pixley played point guard on the Chargers state championship girls’ basketball team this year. She’s won three state titles with the basketball team and seven overall at Providence Day.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/04/16/16/37/Zmvge.Em.138.jpeg|473
    Providence Day’s Emma Pixley won three state titles with the Chargers girls’ tennis team. She has won a school-record seven state titles in three sports at Providence Day.
  • Emma Pixley’s championship record

    Seven state championships overall, with a shot at an eighth in girls’ soccer this spring.

    • Basketball: 3 (2011, 2012, 2014)

    • Tennis: 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)

    • Soccer: 1 (2013)

For most high school students, winning a state championship is a rare experience.

For Emma Pixley, it has nearly become a seasonal tradition. The Providence Day senior has a school-record seven N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state titles in her high school career.

She has won three state crowns with the Chargers basketball team, three with the tennis team and one with the Providence Day soccer team.

Pixley, 18, has played an integral role for each squad, serving as the sixth-man on the first two state title basketball squads and starting at point guard for the 2014 basketball team that won a fifth straight state title.

In tennis, Pixley, 5-foot-4, was a key reserve as a freshman during the championship run, and a starter in both singles and doubles her sophomore and junior seasons when the Chargers also won state titles. Pixley and doubles partner Alexandra Lee only lost two matches the past two seasons.

In soccer, Pixley was the starting goalkeeper last season when Providence Day went 17-3 – including 8-0 in CISAA conference play – before winning the first girls’ soccer state championship in school history.

“It’s an amazing feeling when you realize all your hard work has paid off and that you won it all, there is nothing like it,” said Pixley, who has attended Providence Day since pre-K. “I try take that feeling and let it motivate me even more to want another one each time. I also try to use my championship experiences to tell my teammates how special it is and how great it feels and hopefully help the next team work towards another one.”

Championship Drive

Her coaches believe her infectious attitude, demeanor and work ethic have rubbed off on many of her teammates.

“You would never know that Emma has accomplished all she has, because she is a very quiet, unassuming person,” tennis coach Ryan Harper said. “But behind that quiet exterior is fierce competitor that doesn’t like to lose at anything. No matter how much success she has, she’s the type of person that is always thinking about what she can accomplish next. She will do whatever it takes to win.”

Pixley’s next goal is winning an unprecedented eighth state title, this time with the Providence Day girls’ soccer team in her final high school season.

Pixley is quick to point out that she was lucky to be a part of all these great teams.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have played with so many great players and for some great coaches at Providence Day,” said Pixley.

She also credits her competitive spirit to her three older siblings Stephanie, 26, Matthew, 24, and Ross, 23, who played several sports and were also part of fiercely competitive games of Monopoly.

“I would have never accomplished any of this without all of them,” Pixley said. “Of course, I am very proud to have played just a part and contributed to the success of each team.”

‘You can’t coach experience’

Pixley’s experience on the basketball and tennis courts, and the soccer field has been valuable throughout each season.

A prime example was on April 10 when Pixley helped her Providence Day soccer team (10-0-1, 4-0) beat perennial NCISAA 3A power and rival Charlotte Latin 2-0 to take control of the CISAA conference and entrench themselves as No. 1 in the state NCISAA 3A coaches poll.

Pixley (five saves) and the Providence Day defense came up big, shutting out the Hawks.

Providence Day soccer coach Dan Dudley said Pixley’s steady approach is a big key to the team’s success.

“Emma is so composed all of the time, you don’t see a different Emma Pixley just because it’s a bigger game,” said Dudley, who is in his second year as the Charger girls’ head coach. “What you see is what you get in every game. You can’t really coach experience, but I get Emma to try and talk to the younger girls all of the time about that kind of approach.”

Dudley said Pixley is also helping groom freshman goalkeeper Kate Stewart, often sharing time with her.

Pixley also had some big moments this basketball season, proving her championship mettle again in the NCISAA 3A state semifinal against Rabun Gap-Nacoochee.

In a tight 38-36 Providence Day victory, Pixley had 10 key third-quarter points, including two three-pointers when the defense focused on All-American senior center Jatarie White and all-state freshman forward Janelle Bailey.

“Coach (Josh) Springer kept telling us (the guards) that our moment would come at some point in the season, that we would have to be ready,” Pixley said. “I’m just glad when my time came that I was able to knock some big shots to help my team. No matter what I’m doing, I just try to stay in the moment.”

Pixley made the difficult decision to sit out the 2012-13 basketball season to rest some nagging injuries.

“For Emma to have two of her best games in her final two games says just what she is all about,” said Springer, referencing the semifinal win and a 45-20 win over Greensboro Day in the state title game. “It’s one thing to just be on a team. It’s another thing to be the starting point guard for a four-time defending state championship team and come back and help lead us to a 27-3 record and another state championship. … If Emma doesn’t play this season, I don’t think we would have been the same team.”

The Final Chapter

Her senior year hasn’t been perfect. Her team lost in the state girls’ tennis finals to archrival Charlotte Country Day.

But Pixley hopes the final chapter of her high school sports’ career ends with another championship.

“I definitely want one more state championship,” Pixley said. “I think it would be really special because we were so bad my freshman year and we have worked so hard to get on top. To win a second straight title in my final high school (season) would be even better.”

Pixley, who has a 4.3 GPA, doesn’t plan on playing varsity sports in college. She will attend N.C. State and plans to major in sports management while also focusing on physical therapy.

She hopes to play club tennis and some intramural sports.

“I don’t know what my life would be like without sports,” Pixley said. “I think sports will always be a big part of my life in some way, where I am involved with them, playing them or both.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more