COLUMBIA, S.C. – Saturday can’t come soon enough for Emma Lock.
The South Carolina sophomore volleyball player has spent the past week fielding different forms of good-natured ribbing and the same question: Who are you rooting for in Saturday’s football game?
Lock has heard it from teammates. She has heard it from friends. And she definitely has heard it from members of the South Carolina football team as they prepare to face Missouri and the reason for the question: Drew Lock, Emma’s cousin and Mizzou’s quarterback.
“It’s very stressful and nerve-wracking,” Emma said. “Of course I want the Gamecocks want to win, but I want Drew to do good. That’s what I keep telling people: I want the Gamecocks to win, but Drew to do good.”
It’s an understandable stance for Emma. Drew and Emma were born just four months apart and their families live next door to each other in Lee’s Summit, Mo., outside Kansas City. They went from being in diapers together to being voted most athletic in their senior class when they graduated in 2015.
“We have been together for a long time,” she said.
Now they both are college athletes playing in the SEC — a point of pride for the family.
“It’s definitely a standard in our family,” Emma said. “Sports are a very big deal. It’s kinda a personal level (of athletic success). We both hold ourselves really accountable and to a high standard. It’s what we expect of ourselves.”
The Missouri native is in her second season at South Carolina, playing both indoor and beach volleyball for the Gamecocks. Drew is in his second season at Missouri playing quarterback, continuing a long line of Locks to play football for the Tigers. His father, Emma’s Uncle Andy, played on the offensive line for Missouri. Their grandfather, Jerry, also played at Mizzou in the 1960s. Many more family members have attended Mizzou, although Emma’s parents, Greg and Kim, are not among them.
Emma set out on her own path, even though she not the first Gamecock in the family — she said a pair of her cousins played for South Carolina in baseball a while ago. But she did opt against the grain, as her desire to try something different, play both indoor and beach volleyball and compete in the SEC led her to South Carolina.
“Mizzou is big in my family,” she said. “So it was kind of hard whenever I came here for them. … They were super stoked for me, don’t get me wrong. They just had to get used to wearing Gamecocks gear and not Mizzou.”
It didn’t take all that long. A lot of her extended family members own South Carolina gear now, which they showed off proudly in a large cheering section — complete with signs — last season when South Carolina played at Missouri.
“They probably won’t be wearing it this weekend,” Emma said. “I’ve gotten them to wear some stuff. Whenever it’s football, they root for Drew. Whenever it’s volleyball, they root for me. It goes both ways.”
There will be a strong Lock presence this weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium, the first time the Tigers have come to South Carolina in Drew’s career. His parents, Andy and Laura, Emma’s parents and their aunts, uncles and grandparents will be in town and have a big tailgate planned.
Emma said she and Drew stay in touch as best they can with the challenging schedule that goes with being high-level college athletes. Her schedule almost prevented them from getting to see each other much this weekend, but the volleyball team will return from a trip to Mississippi State with enough time to squeeze in a visit Friday night.
“He is excited to come,” Emma said. “This is a huge thing. Just for him to be able to come play here where I do all my thing here. I know all the campus and all the little things, he gets to come see it. That’s really cool for our family to experience both sides of it.”
The weekend also will bring a different experience for Emma when it comes to watching a South Carolina-Missouri game. Last year, she was with her volleyball teammates on the road watching the game – sometimes between her fingers.
This time, Emma will be in the South Carolina student section, trying to fly under the radar and handle any potential hecklers well.
She just has to pick what to wear.
“I have to wear black, I guess,” she said. “I’m not rooting for Mizzou, but I will just wear regular Gamecock stuff.”