After an offseason of uncertainty, Emily Cheramie made her senior rifle season count.
Cheramie became the first shooter in Husker history to earn three All-American honors in a single season and was named the Great American Rifle Conference senior of the year.
Her senior season came on the heels of an abbreviated but successful junior year, where she won the individual smallbore title at the Great American Rifle Conference Championships and helped lead the Huskers to a fourth place finish. However, the season met a bitter end when the NCAA Rifle Championships were canceled last spring.
The road back to the NCAA Championship for Cheramie was met with roadblocks early on. The safety protocols meant the rifle team had less time to practice in the shooting range before the season. Cheramie didn’t let that get in her way, and she focused on making the most of the limited time she did have in the range.
“I focused on using my time in the range as efficiently as possible. If there was something wrong, or if I had questions, I always went to my coaches,” Cheramie said. “I had to stay dedicated and mindful the entire time, especially in such a compressed season.”
With limited access to the range, Cheramie shifted her time towards mental training. Visualizing became one of the most important methods of training for Cheramie. Visualizing common match scenarios, such as how to bounce back after a bad shot, became just as important as the time spent practicing. Cheramie cites meditation apps like Calm and Headspace as key factors she used to keep her mental health balanced and ready for competition.
Competition for this season looked a lot different than in past seasons. In a normal season, some matches had multiple weeks between them, and there’s normally a two-month break between the fall and spring portions of the season.
In 2021, there was no fall portion of the season, and there were meets every weekend from January through March. The compressed schedule created a new challenge for the athletes. With match training every week and road trips to Kentucky and New York, it became difficult to balance rifle with classes.
“It became really stressful during the semester. Especially with COVID[-19], because every weekend had uncertainty if we would be able to compete or not or what travel would look like,” Cheramie said. “Finding a way to balance practice and travel with schoolwork and things I was doing outside of rifle became very important.”
Cheramie’s dedication to the classroom worked — she was one of six Huskers selected for the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association All-Scholastic team. The senior credits her academic success to the same visualization tactics that help her stay mentally sharp during competition, as well as having open communication with her professors in case the team’s travel schedule conflicts with an assignment.
“My wall is filled with sticky notes of assignments I have to do. It helps me visualize what I need to do in the week, and it’s always satisfying to peel one off,” Cheramie said. “It helps me keep my due dates in mind and know if I need to get something done early or contact one of my professors about my schedule.”
The senior campaign was Cheramie’s most successful season yet. She led the Huskers in smallbore, air rifle and aggregate, earning All-American honors in all three. Her performance helped lead the Huskers to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, their best performance as a team since 2017.
Cheramie finished sixth individually at the NCAA Championships, becoming the first Husker to place in the top six since her coach, Rachel Martin, did it in 2017. With the NCAA pausing eligibility for winter sport athletes, she plans to return next year for another chance at her senior season.
Cheramie is looking forward to her second senior year, especially with hopes that it will be more typical than the cluttered 2021 season.
“I’m excited to have a full season, where we hopefully get to travel to all the places we normally do,” Cheramie said. “... There’s also a lot of talented freshmen coming in plus all of our returners, so I think both of those things will make this a great year, which makes everything better.”