Denmark senior Emma Davies was ready to quit gymnastics in middle school.
She was already in the midst of recovering from ankle surgery when she sprained it once again, a week before the biggest tournament of her life.
“I was so devastated and was ready to quit,” Davies said. “I took the whole week off and ended up qualifying at regionals. That set me back on track and reminded me nothing can hold me back in the future.”
Fast forward a handful of years and Davies is the reigning state champion in vault and floor, also leading Denmark to an overall team championship at the Forsyth County meet.
In total, Davies overcame three broken ankles, two sprained ankles and a concussion throughout her gymnastics career.
“If there’s one lesson I’ve learned throughout gymnastics, it’s perseverance,” Davies said. “I’ve had so many injuries. It’s so worth it to push through your trials and come out on top. Don’t let these obstacles stop you from doing what you love.”
When Davies was four years old, her drive to best her sister at all events drove her to join gymnastics. It wasn’t until she won all-around performer at the region championships in 2016 that she knew she could make waves in the sport.
After spending the first two years of her high school career at King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Davies transferred to Denmark and competed in two meets before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Danes’ season.
“When I came to Denmark, it was totally different than before,” Davies said. “It was very team-oriented, just like college is going to be. Everyone is so nice and so sweet and I love my coaches. Before COVID-19 hit, we were a really good team. I was so disappointed that it ended.”
Headed into her senior season, Davies said she was ready to take the leadership role and eventually help lead the Danes to a county championship. Davies said her team felt like underdogs going into the meet.
“At the end of everything, we calculated our team score and knew what it was,” Davies said. “We thought we were second, but when they said West was second, we were all in shock and then filled with joy.”
Though the team did not qualify as a whole to the state tournament, Davies went on to win two individual titles with her teammates in the stands, cheering her on. Before each match, Davies spends the night in bed, visualizing her hopeful win. That confidence continues through match day.
“My friends always tell me I’m so funny and goofy off the mat, but once I’m on, I’m absolutely laser focused,” Davies said. “Adrenaline is just pumping through my body so for a minute and a half, I’m focused, but off I’m goofy and like to laugh.”
That maturity and poise got a lot of attention from colleges at an early age for Davies. By the middle of her sophomore year, the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school in Philadelphia, offered her a scholarship.
“That was my number one school,” Davies said. “My dad said ‘Ok, let’s tour it one more time to make sure you love it.’ We went around July and then I committed. Great academics, great athletics. I love the city of Philadelphia and I love cheesesteaks. Just such a great school in a fun city.”
Davies added she thinks she is leaving Denmark in a good place to repeat as county champs in 2022, pointing to rising sophomore Ava Balzano as one gymnast who could join the group of Gym Danes that have left their mark on the school.
Gymnastics at UPenn will not start until spring 2022, but Davies will make the 13-hour drive from Alpharetta to Philadelphia in August. She has never spent more than one week away from her sister, but is excited to learn and experience new things in college.
“My family has been so invested and supportive,” Davies said. “They all show up to all of my meets. Gymnastics has been such a big part of our family and I think it will hold a special place in our hearts.”