A text message Monday night interrupted Taylor Emery studying chemistry. It came from a Virginia Tech women’s basketball coach letting her know the Hokies’ season was not over.
Virginia Tech earned a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“We are very blessed to be in the WNIT,” said Emery, a Virginia Tech junior guard. “We didn’t have the resume we needed in order to get into the NCAA tournament. Next year, we definitely will. … Going into the WNIT, we plan to go far, and win it all is our goal. If we win it all, people will see that we should have been in the NCAA tournament.”
The Hokies (18-13 overall) open the WNIT by hosting Navy (25-7) at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. The full WNIT bracket is available at www.womensnit.com.
Emery shared publicly that she is a lesbian in 2015. She is the only publicly out LGBTQ athlete in a Division 1 college basketball tournament this year that Outsports knows of.
She also knows how to end a season with a championship.
Last year, Emery led Gulf Coast State to a NJCAA national title, and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named her its NJCAA player of the year.
She sees similar potential in her first Virginia Tech team.
“We were putting pieces together going into the ACC tournament,” said Emery, who played in the 2016 WNIT as a freshman at Tulane. “We have a lot of momentum right now, and if we just keep rolling together and keep our bonds and playing for each other, I think we are going to win it all, honestly.”
Emery thought the Hokies played their best during its final game and a half of the ACC tournament.
To open the ACC tournament, No. 9-seeded Virginia Tech came back from down 14 points at halftime to beat No. 8-seeded Syracuse 85-70, and Emery scored 28 points. The Hokies then lost 73-70 to ACC regular season champion Louisville, which got a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and Emery had 27 points and six rebounds against Louisville.
“That Louisville game was a very big game for us,” Emery said. “We didn’t back down.”
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Emery said Virginia Tech coaches have encouraged her, in particular, to be aggressive this season. It paid off on offense with Emery leading the Hokies in scoring at 18.3 points per game, and she ranks second on the team with 1.6 assists per game.
Her 87.9 free throw percentage (109-for-124) is the 14th best accuracy in the country through Sunday.
Emery’s success earned her ACC All-Conference second team honors. She is just the fourth Virginia Tech women’s basketball player to be named ACC All-Conference since the Hokies joined the league in 2004-05.
“It’s the perfect fit both on and off the court,” Emery said of Virginia Tech.
That includes her acceptance as an LGBTQ athlete.
“It’s been great. I haven’t really run into any issues,” Emery said of being a lesbian athlete at Virginia Tech. “Here, I’m very loved by my team, my coaches, the community.”
She is not ready to say goodbye to this year’s team anytime soon.
Emery feels the Hokies have six more games to play, which would mean a WNIT title game spot.
“I’m excited,” Emery said. “We are a team that is going to be very hard to beat. We are going to be very dangerous. Other teams should be afraid to play us right now.”
Taylor Emery, 20, is a junior on the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team and an English major. She can be reached on Twitter @TayEmery01 or Instagram @TayEmery01.
Erik Hall is a member of NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He can be reached by email email@example.com, Facebook, or Twitter @HallErik.