Unless someone does something dramatic in the next week, something is going to happen that we have never seen before. NINA EMNACE will become the first player in Shore Conference History to win the Triple Crown. Meaning WINNING the Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and PLAYER OF THE YEAR. But then again Nina Emnace has been doing things we have never seen before, since the day she entered TRINITY HALL

Think of all the great players who have played in the Shore Conference. It’s reads like a who’s who in girls basketball royalty. But in all those years, no player in the past 23 years when the three big Awards started being handed out has anyone won all three during their career. But then again, no player has ever done more who meant more to any school in the history of girls basketball in the Shore Conference. Nina Emnace has been doing things different it seems her entire career. Too often kids travel the road most easiest. Too often kids walk in other players footsteps. Nina Emnace is not one o f them. She had made her on footprints in the sand.

Nina is different than most Shore girls. First of all she is of Asian descent. Her father is Filipino. In a conference that is not filled with players of color this alone would catch the attention of most. On most nights when opponents see Nina Emnace coming. It’s not uncommon for them to get a case of the Asian flu. That’s because they know one of the dynamic players in New Jersey is about to go to work. Nina Emnace has been going to work for 4 years now. She is the Trinity Hall all time leading scorer. She has become this despite being double teamed and game planned basically her entire career. But then again as I told you Nina has always done the unexpected. Just like how she ended up at Trinity.

Most kids with talent, confidence dream of playing at a brand name school. Not Nina Emnace, she wanted to create her own story. It’s why when she got into one of the best high schools in the entire country the Mates school. She decided to attend Trinity Hall. But she wouldn’t accept her invitation to attend Trinity Hall until she got an acceptance letter from the MATES SCHOOL. You see Nina thinks differently than most kids. Like when other kids of her talent dream of P5 schools, she only dreamed of Harvard. For these reasons alone Nina Emnace is a true role model. The ultimate definition of a student athlete.

Trinity Hall is a state power now. They have visions of SCT CHIPS dancing in their head these days. They know the old guard, media types and bloggers have a hard time dealing with there new found successes. That’s because it’s hard to believe one player can do so much for a school and a team. It’s just nobody has ever seen in the history of the Shore something like this happen. This is not the Marlboro crew that dipped in and out 20 years ago to win a Chip. We have never seen anything like this before. Just like we had never seen a SCT divided into PODS for the first time. It was this tournament that Nina Emnace became the “THE COOKIE MONSTER” picking a players pocket late in the game to win the CHIP for Trinity. Nobody had seen a Trinity player do something like this before, especially on such a big stage. But then again nobody had ever seen a freshman like NINA EMNACE at Trinity Hall before.

Do not kid yourself, Nina Emnace is fully a where that she has a chance to be the first Triple Crown winner. When Trinity Hall took on Manchester and Devyn Quigley. She knew her good friend had a number of people quietly campaigning for her to be PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Both grew up together, playing together and against each other. The friendship and respect they have for each other is real. But Nina Emnace is goal driven. So she put all questions regarding the Player of the Year conversations to bed that night. She put on a masterful performance going 8-10 from the field, 3-5 from the land of milk and honey, 6-8 from the line, 3 boards, 6 assists, 4 deflections, 9 steals, ZERO turnovers. Devyn Quigley had a two year low in points with 14. She made up for it the next night with 55 points against Brick. This was unexpected by the non believers. So much that her performance disappeared on social media and in the press. You simply could not find this performance anywhere. It just hard for some people to understand and accept NINA EMNACE’S impact and Trinity’s unexpected arrival.

No player has ever had an impact like Nina Emnace on a team, coaching staff, conference or school. That’s because she has done it all without the benefit of hype but rather with real substance. Nina has taken on every challenge, every road block, every disappointment and every accolade without losing her focus or commitment to greatness on and off the court. Like it or not she will go down in history as one of the all time greats. That’s because she done the unexpected every step of the way without drama and hand outs. She didn’t need a name plastered across her chest to valid her greatness. She didn’t run to EYBL when they came calling, she wanted to beat them and that’s exactly what she and her Shoreshots teammates did last summer. She wanted to represent the filipino national team and that’s exactly what she did during the AAU season. Nina loves the unexpected.

It’s hard to sum up what Nina Emnace means to Trinity Hall’s basketball program.  When Nina decided to attend Trinity Hall they played in the B Central and was a joke that nobody took seriously.  Her going to Trinity gave her coach hope.  The school was still brand new, her freshman year there had only been four graduating classes, it was the covid year. Think about the belief this kid had in herself.  Thankfully she loved the things Trinity was doing academically and she really liked the idea of paving her own path. She wasn’t the “top choice” of the brand name schools as an 8th grader, if she was, she would have ended up at a different school, that’s just the way it was when she was entering high school.  Siobhan Stapleton and Nina changed the culture of basketball at Trinity in the summer prior to ever taking a class. They grew up understanding being part of a team and the responsibility of showing up.  They never missed anything , they arranged their schedules around what the team was doing, then strongly encouraged other kids to show up. This may sound normal at other places, but that wasn’t the case at Trinity but before they arrived. It takes a ton of courage to do what Nina did, she bet on herself.  That’s not the norm, especially these days.  

The scouting reports every year have changed on Nina.  Freshman year, they said “she’s skinny, who could only go right” and was an average shooter.  Sophomore year, teams got on her right hand, and said “she couldn’t shoot deep, she was undisciplined on defense”.  Jr, year, teams beat her up, sent 2 or 3 people at her, and tried to break her down physically and mentally.  Now as a Sr they said “watch the push off, she’s always reaching, she’s a shooter, make her go to the basket. They love saying, they don’t have anyone else she will take all the shots…..”.  See, all the things they said she couldn’t do, motivated her, made her work harder. Most kids scout never changes because they aren’t willing to change or more importantly don’t listen to what they have to change. But what a lot of kids don’t understand, Nina does, and when people are giving you the truth there may be something behind it.  She didn’t go somewhere else to hear what she wanted to hear.  She took the words and knowledge of her Coach, Matt McCarthy and went to work.  She will accept criticism and get better from it.  She is also really motivated by people who doubt her and say what she can’t do. You won’t see NINA EMNACE on podcast interviews or glowing stories in the news. She not part of the in crowd or looking for validation. As long as you respect her and her grind she okay without the hype. It not why she went to Trinity in the first place. Why she chose Harvard over P5 schools.

Trinity Hall was a mid/high teen seed in the SCT until Nina and Stapleton’s sophomore year, that year they were #8.  Last year they were #5. But it’s funny, just a couple of years ago they were losing by 40-50 to anyone in the top 10, they never got invited to a showcase, and was always on the “waiting list” at certain tournaments…now they get that look at certain events and now win games that used to be blowouts.  Somebody was quoted saying this year “we closed the gap on them from last year” nobody had to close to gap on Trinity Hall basketball before so it’s a compliment to where this kid has taken the program.  

Now we hear, Trinity has no one else, they are going to be back to normal when she leaves, they will be average. This is wishful thinking.  I think a huge part of Nina’s legacy is that she leaves the program in great shape, definitely better than when she got there. You don’t replace her but there is foundation built and standard that was set when she and Stapleton took over as freshmen.  She is the best player to ever play at Trinity Hall and what she has done the past four years won’t be duplicated.  I think good players will want to go there but she was first, she put them on the map- nobody will have the impact she made at Trinity Hall.  












Related Post