By Rick Assad
Emery Goulet was often tasked with providing two important ingredients to the Burroughs High boys’ basketball team over the two seasons in which he was a starter and they were shooting and scoring points.
But it was a third element the recent graduate delivered that was perhaps even more vital and that was providing floor guidance.
“I think my biggest role on the team was my leadership,” said Goulet, a 6-foot shooting guard/small forward who averaged about 15 points with five rebounds this past season and 22 points with five caroms the previous campaign. “I was a captain my junior and senior year and my teammates needed my hard work and drive and encouragement to help them out. I also think that I needed to be a scorer, too, at times, but the leadership was most important, especially this year.”
Goulet, who is attending UC Berkeley and majoring in Urban Studies, was heady and knew when it was time to score, play defense and get the team going in the right direction.
“I try and provide energy and light a fire under my guys and build confidence,” he said. “Confidence is such a huge part of basketball. The confidence and energy helps our runs and being sound on defense.”
During the initial meeting with Goulet, Allan Ellis, the Indians’ hoop coach felt that he was going to be an impact player, both on the floor and in the locker room.
“From the moment Emery stepped on the practice court as a freshman, all the coaches fell in love with his competitiveness, effort and ability to be extremely coachable,” Ellis said. “Not to mention his ability to shoot and run the floor. Emery was a delight to coach from the time he stepped on the court to the time he left. One of the best players and an even better kid since I started coaching at Burroughs.”
Though Goulet’s basketball career has concluded, he was drawn to the game because it offered so much.
“I like that it’s a team sport, having your guys with you is an empowering feeling,” he said. “I like that it’s a game of runs and just that you can create your own shot. It’s freeing being able to play the game.”
But it was launching the basketball that really excited Goulet, who was named Most Valuable Player by the team as a junior and selected All-Pacific League, first team and Player of the Month. “I’m a shooter. I love to shoot. That’s part of my love for the game, too,” he noted.
Goulet then added: “I think my ability to shoot and create my own shot were my best assets on the floor,” he said. “Also being able to run the floor was a big part of my game, too.”
Like so many college students, Goulet is taking his first year virtually because of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 has greatly affected me. I wasn’t able to finish out high school at school and have a traditional graduation that other years prior always had,” he said. “It also made me stay home for at least this first semester of college, where I’ll be doing everything online.”
An excellent student who maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout all four years, Goulet gave some insight into how he spends his day studying.
“I organized my schedule so where my classes are generally in the morning, so I have the rest of the day to do homework and have time for myself,” he said. “I typically try and get all of my work out of the way to give myself the rest of the day and not worry about assignments. But if I’m slammed one day, I’ll take intermittent breaks about an hour at a time.”
Looking back, Goulet has no regrets about how his three-year varsity hoop tenure progressed, including a CIF Southern Section Division III A opening-round 55-45 setback to St. Bonaventure as a senior.
“I was pleased with how my basketball career went. I had a great support system with my family [father Derrick and mother Amy] and was surrounded by some great coaches and great teammates,” he pointed out. “It was great to be able to do what I loved every day.”
Some games stood especially tall, like those versus longtime city rival Burbank, which Goulet, who was the Student of the Month in his Calculus class, deemed to be unforgettable.
“I think the Burbank game at Burroughs my junior year and the one at Burbank my senior year were two highlights,” he said. “Electric atmosphere, really good games, just a lot of fun to be a part of. I played well in those games, too, and that always helps.”
The Indians, who went 19-10 and 7-7 in Pacific League action this past season, blitzed host Burbank 70-57 on January 10, but were edged at home 46-42 on February 12 by the Bulldogs.
During Goulet’s junior campaign, Burroughs finished 11-16 and 4-10 in league play and didn’t make the postseason.
That year, the Indians took their first encounter with the visiting Bulldogs 66-61 on January 11, but fell 83-49 on January 31 to their rival.
Burroughs failed to make the playoffs in 2017-2018, when Goulet, who was part of the California Scholarship Federation and was given the History Award at graduation, came off the bench as a sophomore as the Indians went 12-14 and 3-11 in league.
Of course there seemed to be added pressure in those rivalry games because they were against Burbank.
“I will remember the crowd and atmosphere of those games the most, there was nothing like it,” he said of those clashes. “I loved those games and those moments. So much fun.”
In the end, every game, not just Burroughs versus Burbank, were important for Goulet.
“I tried to just mentally prepare for a battle, never take any game lightly,” he reasoned. “I would try and do the same stretches and listen to the same songs before my games.”
Goulet said this ritual really helped his confidence level. “I was pretty superstitious when it came to basketball,” he admitted. “And then I’d go in and give 100 percent every time I go in there.”
Doing anything well takes years of dedication along with hours of practice and the result can be supreme confidence.
“I think my work ethic, drive and determination helped me succeed the most,” Goulet said. “I always wanted to be the best on the court and wouldn’t stop till I was. That drive helped me get to the level I was at.”