Passionate Emma Brown; How the Junior Found Her Home in Moon


Emma Brown’s passionate personality on display against Oakland earlier this season. Photo Credit: Sydney Riker

Cameron Macariola

While it has been a down season for Robert Morris volleyball, junior middle blocker Emma Brown has been a major voice for the Colonials.

“I am very passionate about this sport, I am very passionate about my teammates and I genuinely want the best for them,” Brown said.

No matter the scenario or the outcome of a game, Brown is there to encourage her teammates.

“If they’re playing good I will hype them up,” Brown said “I think that’s my main goal, no matter if I’m playing good or not, you can always count on me being loud. I believe my teammates appreciate it when you see them get a great kill or a great block you just have to celebrate it and let them know.”

A major goal for Brown is to not just be a good volleyball player, but also a good person.

Her volleyball career started after following the steps of her older cousins who have gone on to play volleyball at Wheeling, Florida Atlantic, Dayton, and Illinois.

“My four older cousins all played volleyball, so in third grade, I started playing volleyball to be just like them,” Brown said.

Volleyball started to become a passion for Brown, and as time went on it became more serious and took priority over other sports such as basketball and lacrosse.

During her journey to the college level, she always had family support. One person who influenced her growth and game was her cousin, Diana Brown. Emma was fortunate enough to play alongside her cousin Diana for a couple of seasons in high school. Diana is currently a redshirt senior at the University of Illinois and has been there for Emma since day one. Emma praises Diana for who she is on and off the court.

“She’s such a role model for me. On and off the court she’s amazing.” Brown said. “[Diana] excels in the classroom, she excels as a person, and in community service she’s amazing.”

After winning a Division I state title in Ohio with her high school, St. Francis DeSales, and an AAU national title with Mintonette in 2019, Emma Brown found her new home here in Moon Township.

“I wanted to be a middle, I didn’t want a school too big, I wanted computer science and RMU has cybersecurity,” Brown said.

Many athletes and students at Robert Morris including Brown have had a sense of feeling at home when visiting the campus for the first time.

“After I came here, this was one of my last visits, I just knew and my parents knew too. The coaches will take care of me, this is a safe place, academics seemed amazing, and volleyball is just a plus on top of all of that.”

Going into the 2020 season there were multiple factors affecting the volleyball team, including Covid-19, a new conference, and the season being moved from fall to the spring, making Brown’s freshman year far from normal.

“Our fall was a lot of training. A lot of lifting and conditioning. Which was hard to have all this physical activity at once,” Brown said.

Despite the changes to the season, Brown was thankful for that time to prepare.

“I am thankful that we had that season to prepare for the spring,” Brown said. “That’s something most freshmen don’t get, and just get tossed right into the season.”

Moving from high school to college volleyball was difficult as Brown had faced tough competition in high school and club volleyball, but the college speed and difficulty were eye-openers.

“It was a big change, every team you play, they’re good,” Brown said. “You always have to have your best game, and that’s something that is different [from before]. Every team especially in the Horizon League is amazing and you have to be on your game all the time.”

Brown’s freshman year was full of restrictions due to COVID-19. Brown believes there was a lot left on the table for the 2020 team.

“It also was unfortunate because we weren’t supposed to hang out with people on our team. You had to hang out with the people you lived with,” Brown said. “We didn’t get a lot of team bonding, and I really wish I got the chance to get closer with the seniors that year because we didn’t really get to hang out as much.”

Brown was joined by Annie Monaco and Abby Ryan in her freshman class. They have been more than teammates and more than roommates to Brown. Monaco and Ryan have been Brown’s support since first stepping on campus.

“I would describe it as we’re sisters. I love them to death.” Brown said. “They truly are my best friends and I know I can talk to them about anything whether it’s volleyball related or off the court. I know I can rely on them.”

The experience of coming into a new adventure and having to deal with the same issues lead to the growth of their relationship.

“They’ve gone through the same things I have. I could not have made it this far without them,” Brown said.

Emma Brown sparks the energy on the bench in support of her teammates. Photo Credit: Sydney Riker

Along with Monaco and Ryan being a backbone of support, the assistant coach at the time Danny Doherty provided a voice for Brown and her team as well.

“[He] helped us understand the mental aspects of on the court as well as off the court in how to handle everything. Even when things don’t go your way.”

Before the 2022 season, Danny Doherty was named the Colonials’ head coach. Brown along with the team was ecstatic for Doherty to get the position because of his past relationship and the support of the players.

“Before he became head coach we all wanted him to apply for the job. We all wanted him because everyone had a great relationship with him, and that’s something Danny really focuses on,” Brown said.

The “off-the-court” element of Doherty was a leading force in receiving the job as head coach.

“He focuses on Emma Brown the person rather than Emma Brown the volleyball player,” said Brown. “He can switch it on and off which is great because you need someone who checks in on your academics, who checks in on your mental health, and checks in on your volleyball playing.”

The 2022 season started off well for the Colonials as they began the season with a 7-5 record, but conference play has been a bumpy road for the team. Despite the record, the team still has its eyes set on developing.

“We may not always have the most success but we always have a focus on growth,” said Brown. “It’s evident that we’re growing because every game we’re doing something different, we’re learning something new, and new aspects come out in place.”

Brown has seen not just her team, but also herself grow since the beginning of her time here at Robert Morris.

“Personally, I think I’ve learned how to face adversity better. Dealing with tougher teammates or dealing with a tougher coach. I have learned to take things better especially mentally,” Brown expressed.

The team set goals at the beginning of the season, and despite not reaching them there is still a drive to improve and develop.

“We’re realistic, the Horizon league is tough,” Brown said, “We made a goal to get sixth in the Horizon league. Currently, we’re ranked last (10th).”

Robert Morris is currently 1-11 in conference play, but expects more from themselves and is prepared for the final stretch of their season.

“We just finished the first round of playing everyone so now we’re going to go back for the second round. Now on our scouting sheets, we’re seeing familiar faces and understanding how people play,” Brown explained.

Brown also set aside a few personal goals of her own to take into the remainder of the season, and eventually into her senior season.

“I’d like to increase my gameplay, understand and lead the team a little bit better and motivate them to play their best,” Brown said.

The team currently sits with 18 straight sets lost. Brown acknowledges the team’s struggle of their inconsistent play.

“That’s something we’re struggling with, consistently playing well, so I hope I can relate to the girls and understand them a little better,” Brown said.

The Colonials hope to regather the reigns and finish out the final six games strong. This is the first season with Doherty as the head bench boss of a young Colonials team. With some veteran leadership of Emma Brown as well as others, the team will compete to the final whistle.