With all that she’s involved with and has accomplished in high school, you can’t help but ask Emily Downer one question.
Do you leave any time for yourself?
“Yes,” laughed Downer, our Moynihan Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month. “On the weekends I try to jam in as much time as I can for myself. But during the week it’s about being a workhorse.”
It’s a mindset that’s helped the Central Catholic senior from Methuen excel as both a basketball player and a student.
In school, she’s maintained a 4.5 weighted GPA while taking six Advanced Placement courses over the past two years. She scored a 1410 on her SATs, is a member of the National Honor Society and has won Central’s Notre Dame Book Award, Religion Award and Theater Award.
Outside of school, she was named one of four Student Directors at Camp Champagne, where she will teach underclassmen leadership qualities over a three-day course during the summer. She’s also involved with Catwalk for Cancer and the Student Alumni Association, and has volunteered as both an elementary school tutor and at the Special Field Games in Haverhill.
How does she do it all?
“I’m a very schedule-orientated person,” said Downer, who also plays volleyball in the fall. “So I try to get as much done earlier in the week to set myself up for later. If I have a game on Tuesday, I’ll make sure to get a lot of work done on Monday.”
And athletically, she’s been just as prolific.
Downer remembers her first trips to a basketball court were “as soon as I could fit into a stroller.” That would make a lot of sense as her mother, Sue, was the highly-successful girls coach at Central from 1996-2015. The young Downer has been around the program all her life, and has grown into a star for it over the past few years.
“My mother has definitely been the biggest influence on my career,” said Downer. “But she’s taught me a lot more than just fundamentals. She taught me how to be a good person on the court. She’s taught me how to see the potential in myself and in my teammates.”
According to current Central coach Casey Grange, Downer — who made varsity as a freshman — is just the second player in program history to be named a two-year captain. She’s been a key member of Central’s runs to the state semifinals the past two years, and last winter she returned from a torn ACL suffered as a sophomore and was named an MVC All-Star.
This winter, things have only gotten better.
The Raiders (6-1) are ranked No. 5 in EMass by the Boston Globe, and the 6-foot Downer is averaging a team-high 12.1 points per game while being a top rebounder and defender.
“There isn’t one play that happens that Emily isn’t involved in,” said Grange. “If she makes a mistake, her body language is clearly ‘next play.’ If a teammate does something great, she’s the first one to give a high-five. If a teammate makes a mistake, she’s the first one there to give encouragement.
“We need Emily on the court for her stellar defense and rebounding, but we need her more for her leadership.”
Downer’s hard work earned her a scholarship to Middlebury College, where she’ll continue her basketball career while looking to further her interest in the biomedical field.
It’s been a busy past four years, but reflecting back, there was a simple reason why Downer decided to do it all.
“I’ve always tried to challenge myself as much as I can,” she said. “I know basketball has been a huge part of my life, but I’ve always known it’s education that’s going to get me farther.”
MOYNIHAN SCHOLAR WINNERS
September: Mac Lee, Andover golf; Ella Dandrade, Pinkerton volleyball
October: Owen Gormley, Salem football; Lauren Mezquita, Timberlane volleyball
November: Shamus Florio, Andover football; Julia Leppanen, Windham volleyball
December: Xavier Metivier, Methuen track; Emily Downer, Central Catholic basketball