Mother, student, athlete -- meeting the challenges

By Adam Donnelly
January 11, 2018 - 1:51pm Updated: January 11, 2018 - 6:06pm

KAMLOOPS --- It's a mid-December morning, and while classes have ended at Thompson Rivers University for the first semester, for many students exams loom.    Emma Pggin's day starts early, dropping off her daughter Abby at the campus day care.    While Emma anbd Abby have their morning routine locked in now, finding out she was pregnant was a bit of a surprise for Piggin.

"A little bit of panic", says Emma, "how was I going to tell my parents, how was I going to tell my coach, tell my teammates, my friends --- what am I going to do.   What about school, what about basketball?"

Abby was born in July 2016, but Emma had no intention of burning a year of her eligibility.   With a late August training camp looming, she got to work so she would be ready for the 2016-17 season.

"Nine months -- like that's a pretty good chunk of the year." says Piggin.   "Ended up getting my due date the end of July.  I said that's good --- I can take four weeks getting back in shape and ready to go again."

Piggin did'nt miss a beat.  A lot of the credit can be given to her family, who took on some of the responsibility of caring for Abby so Emma could focus on school and basketball.

"Thankfully she lived at home with us." says Emma's Mom Debbie.  "One burden that was a little bit easier to handle.  We helped her and made it possible for her to be able to still go to the gym, work out and go back strong and be that athlete that she was known to be."

Says Emma's Dad Gord, "Within the family too we have such a great network -- everybody wants to support --- it was just fabulous the way family, and friends, picked up on it."

Emma's teammates and coaches were also impressed that she was able to return to the team so quickly after having a child.

"Since Abby is a July baby and our season starts at the end of August, it was a quick turnaround, but I never really doubted her." says WolfPack teammate Maddie Neumann. 

Assistant WolfPack coach Chuck Ferguson adds, "She's blessed with some genetic gifts as well which made that possible as well --- but being able to rehab yourself to be in playing shape by September, that's absolutely incredible."

The Piggin family makes sure to attend every game they are able to -- giving Abby the opportunity to see her Mom in action at all times, at home and on the road.

Says Debbie, "We flew her with us to Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg -- it was our way of supporting Emma too, and making sure she understands we're so proud of her no matter what happens."

"You watch on T.V. and you see NHL and NBA players with their kids on the sidelines -- they get to hug and see, which is pretty special for them.  I get to do the same thing with Abby at my games."

Emma says she's thankful for the opportunity she has to continue to play basketball --- and for the efforts her family has put forth in helping her realize her athletic goals.

"I would'nt be able to do this without them." says Emma.  "Two of my sisters, my parents, my aunt and uncle and my friends, I need them" 

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