Emily Lines and her family wanted to make her signing day special.
As far Lines and her parents Rick and Jennifer are concerned, that family extended to everyone at First Baptist Academy. So when the Lions’ basketball star signed her letter of intent with the University of New Mexico on Sunday, she did so with members of her actual family and FBA family — 80 of them — at her house.
“It was a special day,” said Jennifer Lines, who also is the girls basketball coach at FBA. “We were excited to share the day with a lot of friends and family. We had school friends that were here. We had former teammates, current teammates, who were all able to share in the day together.
“We just wanted it to be a little bit more intimate. We’ve just been blessed. We’ve been blessed with a school family and teammates and friends over the years. We thought it was just fitting.”
So did Emily.
“It was really special to be able to just sign, and just hang out with friends from school, and different coaches I’ve had throughout my life, teachers — a lot of people were able to come over,” she said.
Emily Lines and a basketball have fit well together for years, back to playing on the family driveway. And that was another reason for Sunday’s setting.
“For us in the family, playing basketball in the driveway was just something we did,” Jennifer Lines said.
Rick, who’s also a football and basketball official, and Jennifer Lines stressed the fun part of the game, and wanted to make sure that always was part of the deal for their daughter, whether it was playing travel ball or for the Lions.
“It’s always been about having fun,” said Jennifer Lines, who played college basketball at Northwood University in Michigan and is in the Division II school’s athletic Hall of Fame. “ … The bottom line is it still has to be fun if you’re willing to put in the work.”
The 6-foot-1 Lines and her parents took a visit to New Mexico on Aug. 29-30. The next day, she called coach Yvonna Sanchez to make her commitment, choosing the Lobos over Penn and Lafayette.
“After I committed, I’ve been looking forward to this day since then,” Emily Lines said. “It’s just really exciting. I’m just really thankful and excited for the opportunity.”
New Mexico watched Lines when she won the 3-point contest in the Naples Holiday Shootout last year, but she had been on their radar since her sophomore year, which was Lines’ fourth year on the varsity. She had 2,132 career points entering this season.
“We’ve been just so impressed with the coaching staff at New Mexico,” Jennifer Lines said. “They’re crazy about their basketball out there. To think that Emily has a chance to be a part of that, that’s really special.”
Lines was a Florida Association of Basketball Coaches all-state selection for the third straight year last season. She was named the Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year as a freshman and sophomore. Through her early start on the varsity and travel ball, Lines has been watched for quite a while by college coaches.
“It was just something that we tried not to be overwhelmed with, but to really enjoy,” Jennifer Lines said. “It’s such a short time in your life. We just tried to kind of keep things in perspective, and enjoy it.
“If you start thinking too much about who’s watching, or who’s writing you a letter, or who’s calling, that just puts too much pressure on her as a player.”
Now Lines can focus on that, and not worry about anything else — just play basketball and enjoy her senior year.
“I’m just really, really relieved,” she said. “I don’t have to stress anymore about picking a college. I can just focus on the rest of my senior year and the high school basketball season.”