BONNERS FERRY — Emma Pinkerton was recently honored with the statewide Spirit of Sport Award, presented by the Idaho High School Activities Association.
Pinkerton was diagnosed with gastroparesis in 2017, and it has been a battle for her to compete in the sporting events that she loves. She plays soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring.
Pinkerton’s coaches, principal, and athletic director came together and nominated her for this award.
Kelly and Travis Hinthorn, her close friends and coaches, nominated her for the award, resulting in the IHSAA awarding Pinkerton the ‘Spirit of Sport’ award last week.
Even though Pinkerton deals with the constant struggle of having gastroparesis — a disease in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion — with the assistance of her doctors, medications, family, friends, and the community, she is able to play.
“This last fall I played soccer with my feeding tube in, for I was able to unplug it from the pump and tie it into my hair keeping it secure,” said Pinkerton. “Once basketball season began, I was able to take out my NG tube and place it back in when needed, leaving me without it during games but placing it in before bed every night for extra nutrients to remain stable for the sport I have a passion for.”
Gastroparesis symptoms include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and feeling full quickly when eating.
After her body was weakened by the disease, Pinkerton said it meant more than ever to be part of her Badger teams.
“I was beyond happy to be back with my team after having to manage the previous season, while my body was at its weakest,” said Pinkerton. “Most of my playing time was done on Varsity, where I was taken to State, and scored for my team. By the time track started early this spring my body was doing its best since early 2017.”
Pinkerton won districts for the 400 meter dash in track, allowing her to attend the State meet in May.
“I would say my involvement in sports has shaped a lot of who I am today, not only as an athlete, but as a person in general,” said Pinkerton. “My coaches constantly tell me and my teammates that being an athlete is much more than just your athletic capability. Being an athlete is upholding a good attitude, being positively competitive, being committed to your coaches and teammates, as well as showing gratitude of support from all who give it.”
As the school year comes to a close for the summer, Pinkerton’s strive to accomplish her goals has been an inspiration to those around her, evidenced by the support she has received.
“To me, this award is more than just a positive addition to my reputation. To me, this award means that, all of the carries off of the soccer field, all of the dizziness on the basketball court, and all of the blackouts at the track finish line were worth every moment of doing what makes my heart happy,” said Pinkerton. “Lastly, to me, this award represents not only my successes, but my incredible teammates, coaches, and community members as well as the immense amount of motivation and support I’ve received from all of them.”
At some point this month, she will be receiving a personalized banner to hang in the BFHS gym, making it the second individualized banner to hang there, the other earned by Kelly Hinthorn.