Niamh (Cunningham) Emerson came to Branford from Ireland at the age of six. She began her athletic career like most kids, playing all sports, softball, basketball, soccer. While at BHS she realized her potential in running and developed into one of Branford’s most accomplished student-athletes.
She began her athletic career as a soccer player, admiring US National star Mia Hamm, as most young girls did. By sophomore year, Niamh was voted to the All-SCC soccer team. She began running indoor track also during that winter. She made big improvements that season, emerging as one of the top distance runners in the SCC. That season she built the foundation of what was to become an illustrious high school career. When she headed outdoors for the spring season, she became a reliable performer for the Hornets track team.
By the fall of 2000, Niamh made the decision to leave soccer behind and run the trails her junior year. She became an instant success and a force to be reckoned with, finishing near the top at invitationals and culminating with an individual crown in the SCC Championship meet. She capped her season with All-State and All- New England honors and was named the New Haven Register All- Area MVP.
Throughout her junior year she built a reputation as a fierce competitor. She would become a three time winner of the 3200 meters at the SCC’s, and became an elite competitor at the State Open and New Englands. She earned All- SCC, All-State, and All-New England distinctions junior and senior years, and was the Class M Champion in the 1600 meters her junior year. During her senior season in cross country, she was asked to write a weekly column about cross country for the New Haven Register—a prelude for career choices in the future.
Due to her success, Niamh was recruited to run for the University of Connecticut. She earned an academic scholarship all four years and a full athletic scholarship for three years. Niamh continued to excel for the Huskies despite tough Big East competition in the distance events. Junior year, Niamh truly blossomed, running to All- New England honors in cross country and indoor track. She was recognized by her coaches as the most improved in her junior year, and she was named a team captain by her coaches for cross country and track and field in her senior year. She earned All-Big East honors in her senior year, and she finished her career as a Husky as the New England runner up in 10,000 meters.
Despite a rigorous athletic schedule, Niamh distinguished herself academically as a Dean’s List student in her sophomore through senior years, and earned distinction on the Big East and NCAA All-Academic teams. She graduated from UConn with an English and Journalism double major and later went on to earn a Master’s degree from Yale in English Language and Literature.
Niamh is married to Paul Emerson, and is the proud mother of three: 4-year old Matilda, and 2-year old twins, Patrick and Jack. She proudly coached Matilda in soccer this past season, passing on her love for sports to the next generation of athletes. Niamh is employed by Yale University in the Office of Public Affairs, as the editor of Your Yale, a weekly publication sent to over 16,000 staff members. She and her family reside in Branford.