You might remember her from the 2010 World Equestrian Games, since Emily Hogye was the shining star of the golden american team we all love. She was certainly one of the best flyers at the competition.
Years later she was pretty much one of the most promising young vaulters of the United States and ready to earn her place at the 2014 WEGs, in France, barely having completed 18 years old, when a car accident almost took her life away and ended her season for good.
Now she is trying to rebuild her vaulting career and find her way back into love, and to herself, through sport. We talked a little bit to Emily and learned a bit more about her story and plans for the future.
You can also check out her Tumblr, where she shares some amazing pictures and her thoughts on getting back on the horse and trying to reconstruct her life.
1. Let’s start by talking about your best memories. WEG 2010. You guys had a rough moment on the first freestyle but in the end everything turned out all right. How was the whole competition for you?
Wow, it was so intense. Nerves, excitement.. There is so much to it, I don’t even know where to begin. Round 1 was very stressful. I worked a lot with our team’s sports psychologist after round 1 to prepare for round 2 – Katie Peuvrelle – she’s amazing. She helped me to focus all of my energies into a big ball of useful, under-control, “grounded” energy, and it certainly paid off for round 2 and the gold medal!! It still doesn’t feel real to, tell you the truth. It’s like, “whoa, that happened.” It was a once in a lifetime experience, WEG, and everything that went into it.
2. What was the main difference between the “mind set” or the spirit of the team in 2008 and in 2010? Was the preparation for the two competitions similar?
2008 was really a huge learning experience for me – 2007/ 2008, I was brought into and introduced to a whole new world and a whole new level of vaulting that really, as a young little vaulter, I had never imagined would actually be something in my life. I never imagined that I would be in the elite level, international, world class level of vaulting, haha! The mindset of the team in 2010 was much more “solid” in my opinion. 2010 seemed much more “organized” and “focused” to me. But the preparation was very much the same – lots of training, lots and lot of training.
3. You went through high school, and graduated in advance (Emily managed to finish high school ahead of time), while having to practice with the national team and individuals, and actually got into college earlier. How was it to grow up being a high performance athlete?
Yes – I graduated high school a year early, class of 2013. “Growing up” as an elite level athlete has only been a blessing to me. I have taken my qualities and drive, dedication, and determination that I have in me as an athlete and applied all of that to my education, and it’s brought me a lot of success.
4. The teenage years come with a lot of growing up and questioning. Did you ever doubt yourself or thought of throwing it all away?
Nope. Never. “Throwing away” vaulting to me would be like, well, how about chopping off a leg.. I love vaulting, competition or not, I love it, and all of the shifts and changes that come with being a teenager could never touch my passion for the sport.
5. Now, what exactly happened to you in 2014? In your Tumblr you say you went through some pretty hard stuff. How does vaulting fit amongst all that?
I would definitely encourage people to read the tumblr blog to get a better, kind of “deep” idea of what happened and what I’ve been going through – It’s been a very therapeutic and healing “outlet” for me to be able to open up and write about all my struggles through 2014 there, as well as offer encouragement to others, especially athletes, who might think that the struggles they are going through are going to be the end of it all… It’s not – you’ll come out the other side – just takes patience, a lot of patience…
On March 4th, 2014, my best friend and I were in a severe car accident. We rolled our car down the center-dirt strip of the highway, at high speed. I was “expired” on the scene and airlfted to a trauma center. I believe that God was rapidly healing me. I believe that it was divine intervention that I survived. But after the accident, I certainly didn’t feel like I would survive. I was in a very strong place after the 2013 vaulting season, and had WEG in sight. It was my big goal. I had a lot of plans for 2014, and the car accident completely shut it all down. My life was, to me, turned completely upside down and I thought that it was “over.” I had to sit the season out. I didn’t get to compete (besides one competition in the summer that I got to do for fun), and I basically isolated myself and removed myself from my club and the sport – being involved in it. But, I continued to train alone, on my own, and desperately tried to deny all of my “troubles” – I was totally stuck in denial, thinking that SOMEHOW, I would still make it to WEG, on my own… Yeah.. Nope. I had to come out of that denial – In late June, I did. I began to accept the fact that my plans weren’t meant to be. My plans weren’t God’s plans. I had to accept that I would have to find a “new normal” and build myself back up in a new way – the reconstruction pursuit, pursuing reconstruction of a whole person.
I had to overcome a lot of emotional and psychological challenges, including intense depression, panic, anxiety, and PTSD, etc… all which were “put on steroids” because of my head injury (brains are fragile). It’s been a wild ride. I am still working hard on it, every day.
Through it all, I have had to learn to find blessings in the whole mess. Not easy, but I have been working on really re-framing my perspectives on life, and my mindsets – It’s been quite the learning experience. All in all, I can say that what I have learned through this journey, through 2014, is all coming together for the greater good. It has helped me to learn more about myself and change my mindsets and perspectives and outlooks, on multiple levels. I think that all in all, the “mess” of 2014 might, dare I say it, turn out to be more of a blessing than a curse. Maybe I will someday even be able to say “I’m grateful” for this struggle.
So the reconstruction is in pursuit.
6. What are your plans for your future as a vaulter?
I hope to come back to competing. I hope to come back, be back, and vault, because it’s magical and I love it. I love being able to “dance on a horse” – It’s amazing. It’s a blessing, it’s a gift, I love it, and I am hoping to keep that as my focus as I reintegrate into the competitive side of the sport.
THANK YOU EMILY FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US AND KNOW THAT WE AT VAULTING NEWS WILL ALWAYS BE HERE CHEERING FOR YOU AND YOUR DANCE ON HORSES.