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EMMA’S MENTAL GAME STANDS TALL

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By Jesse Pinkston Santos

Emma Gillan Gatewood is a major player on the Guam Women's Volleyball National Team. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Emma Gillan Gatewood is a major player on the Guam Women’s Volleyball National Team. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Born and raised on Guam, 26 year-old Emma Gillan Gatewood was destined to be an athlete.  As a matter of fact, her entire family excelled in sports!

Her parents, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and many others have made names for themselves in one or more different sports, ranging from golf to rugby to football, this family is talented!

Hailing from Mangilao, this Academy graduate dabbled in an array of sports, earning honors in nearly most of them, but admits that volleyball was and is her sport of choice.  Emma has been playing volleyball since sixth grade at St. Anthony and recently played with Team Guam in the 6th East Asian Games in China.  Her younger sister, Mary, is on the team as well, which is something special for the sisters.  “I’m really excited about this because it’s the first time we’re on the same team,” stated Emma.

Tryouts for East Asian occurred late last year and after not being on the National Team since 2006, Emma was ready to get back into volleyball.

Power of the Mind

“I was really focused on school and my career, so I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to sports.”

Emma graduated from Chaminade in a mere three years with a degree in psychology and just earned her Master’s of Science in Clinical Psychology from UOG this May.  She acknowledges that her profession has helped her on the court as well.

“I’ve become more aware of the power of the mind, and I see how powerful the mind can be, especially when you may not be the best physically.  Moreover, mental strength is harder to teach and master than a physical skill.  I’ve learned to appreciate and value the importance of the mental gains.”

Gatewood has a master's in Clinical Psychology and has used that to her advantage in the mind game of her sport. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Gatewood has a master’s in Clinical Psychology and has used that to her advantage in the mind game of her sport. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Emma first played for the national team at the ripe age of 15!  The team went to Fiji in 2003 and it turned into a surreal experience for her.  “Although we didn’t medal, I was just amazed at the experience.  It was my first exposure to such high level of play.”

Three years later, she was part of the gold medal team at the Micronesian Games in Saipan.  “Even though most people won’t know or remember what year we won or who was on the team, it’s great to be a part of Guam’s history in some way.”

To date, Emma’s biggest accomplishment is beating the GW Geckos in the 2004 Far East Tournament in Japan.  She was a senior captain and defending champion.

It was great redemption after losing to GW in the IIAAG championship a few weeks prior.

“I have clear memories of that last game.  It was best-of-five.  We won the first two and lost the second two.  The fifth set was back and forth with great offense and defense from both teams.  To beat GW at the biggest tournament for our high schools is indescribable.  And even though we were defending champions, we had a different team with different players.  That just made the victory even sweeter.  I was named tournament MVP.”  (That was the last time a Guam team won the tournament)

Off the court, Emma’s biggest accomplishment is being happily married to husband, Mike Gatewood.

“He really is my best friend, and I think we make a great team.  Mike and I dated since high school, and things worked out well for us.  We both went to school off-island and are happy to be back on Guam working and being close to family and friends.

Gatewood is currently in China with the women's team playing in the 6th East Asian Games. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Gatewood is currently in China with the women’s team playing in the 6th East Asian Games. (photo by Jesse Castro)

“I remember my dad asking me in high school, ‘What mark do you want to leave on the world?’  It was one of our many casual talks that has stuck with me and has guided my career choice.”

Emma’s thesis, “Hinason Chumochu: Eating Attitudes and Body Dissatisfaction of Young Adult Females on Guam,” was presented at the American Psychological Association Conference in Hawaii in August.  “I was surprised to even get accepted because it’s one of the largest, if not the largest, conferences for psychologists.”

Emma started her career at the Judiciary at the Client Services and Family Counseling Division and absolutely loves it.  She enjoys the challenges and rewards that come with her job.

“It’s challenging trying to help people who don’t want to change or don’t think there’s an issue, but they usually come around.  I’ve had a few child clients that had heartbreaking stories and helping them through a tough time and seeing them use some of the skills I taught them to cope really solidified why I chose this field.”

Emma is also a certified personal trainer.

“I’ve always had this drive to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had enough time to commit to training clients, but it’s definitely something I plan to pursue.  My dream is to combine my professional skills from therapy with weight loss.  For many people, losing weight is such an emotional experience.  And I would love to help people through that journey.”

Emma’s plans for the future are to play volleyball as long as she can and explore other sports as well.  “I’m hoping my sister, Mary, moves back to Guam, so we can partner up in beach volleyball.  She’s taller than me, and I think we’d make a good team.”

A shout out to her supporters:  “Thanks to my family, especially my parents for getting me into sports at a young age and continuing to support my goals.  My in-laws, Bob and Frances Gatewood for their support in everything I do.  Mike, for staying active with me. Paradise Fitness and Crowns for support Guam volleyball.  Academy of Our Lady of Guam for allowing us to use their gym to practice.”

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