At 9 years old, she was one of the only Japanese students in an American school in London, where her father was working with an American finance company.
Born in New York City and after living her first nine years in Tokyo, Emi was plopped into a sea of children from all over the world. Not speaking a word of English, she had to make friends with her classmates somehow.
She did it with the help of English as a Second Language classes and sports – from swimming to basketball, soccer, and softball. “Playing sports had always been a big part of my life,” she says. “At that school, sports helped me make friends and taught me how to be a team player – and to never give up.