DeKALB – All eyes were on Emma Carpenter, 11, during her performance of the national anthem before the boys basketball game Friday night.
“I was very, very nervous,” said the Clinton-Rosette Middle School sixth grader. “It’s really hard because you have to project your voice and not start out too high or too low.”
Emma has been singing in front of audiences for about two years, but Friday night’s audience at the Castle Challenge, at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center, was the largest she has entertained. As she sang, her older brother Jake Carpenter stood with the DeKalb High School basketball team, preparing to take on Sycamore High School.
At halftime of the boys game, the game announcer recognized the honorary game captains from NIU, DeKalb and Sycamore. NIU President John Peters and his wife, Barbara, were thanked for their years of service to the university and the community. Peters will retire from NIU next year.
Also recognized as an honorary captain was Sycamore native and recent NIU graduate Jason Schepler.
After receiving letters in wrestling and football at Sycamore High School, Schepler went on to play football for NIU. The three-year Huskie starter played in the Orange Bowl last month as a tight end.
Schepler is training for the NFL’s scouting combine and pro days in the next few months “to see if maybe I can play at the next level.”
“I’ve got one shot at it so I know I won’t have any regrets later if I don’t at least try,” Schepler said.
No matter where his football career or his degree in electrical engineering take Schepler, he will always be loyal to his Sycamore roots.
“When I was at NIU I tried to represent Sycamore the best I could, both on and off the field,” Schepler said after the halftime presentation.
The DeKalb girls defeated Sycamore 36-18 and the Spartan boys snapped their 11-game losing streak against the Barbs with a decisive 55-32 win.