Former UConn walk-on Steve Emt going for gold as a paralympic curler

(WTNH)–Back in the early ’90s, Steve Emt was a walk-on for the UConn men’s basketball team. Today, he can’t even walk. He’s in a wheelchair. Still, he’s preparing for an even bigger athletic challenge than what he faced with the Huskies back in the day.

Emt is going for gold at the paralympics in South Korea next month.

Emt has been a competitor all of his life. A three-sport star at RHAM High School, West Point and then UConn, Emt could do it all. But in 1995, his life changed.

“I was a drunk driver, I tried to drive home,” he said.

He didn’t make it there. Instead, he got into a bad accident. He required multiple surgeries, and was in a coma for days. Then he woke up, and was told he would never walk again.

“The doctor who performed the surgeries the couple nights prior, she’s the one who told me that, and then she left the room and the next person that came in was my mother. She leaned over my bed, kissed me on the forehead and she said, ‘Steven, I love you,’ and she left the room, and that’s when it hit me. What did I do? What happened?”

For the next 17 years, Emt tried other adaptive sports and coached basketball. But it was a chance meeting with a curling coach on Cape Cod that changed everything. He asked Emt to try the sport, and the rest is history.

“I’m like, A, what the heck is curling, and B, where do I sign up?” he said. “I heard Olympics, being an athlete, and I said, let’s go.”

After five years of practice and driving from his home in Manchester to Cape Cod, or Norfolk or Bridgeport to practice, Emt will represent his country next month in the paralympics in PyeongChang.

What would a gold medal mean to him?

“It would be incredible, not only for myself but for my family, my loved ones and my community, for my country,” he said. “I think about it every day. I’m a lucky man.”

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