Emily was born March 23, 1997 at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls to Angela (Koehnecke) Rink and Todd Groth. The nurses there told her mother that she was one of the cuddliest newborns ever in their care. Emily was a star student, first at St. Lambert Catholic School for kindergarten and then at Robert Frost elementary. She was a member of the art club, Girl Scouts, and Power & Grace Gymnastics Team. She attended 6th grade at Edison Middle School and 7th through 12th grade at O’Gorman High School. She earned nine college credits while in high school. Emily received a Scholastic art scholarship to the University of South Dakota, where she completed one semester.
Emily’s creative genius was reflected in her artwork. She was an original who continued working on her paintings and pottery for art shows and recently sold her work through Etsy online. As a toddler, she would bring her mother amazing works of art she made out of sticks, rocks and leaves. In high school she won first place in the state for her artwork from the South Dakota High School Activities Association. She was also an accomplished seamstress who designed her own clothing and made hats and accessories.
Emily was also heavily influenced by music, starting with Kindermusik as a toddler. In second grade, at her insistence, she began taking violin lessons. She switched to cello after a couple of years and also played the French horn. In addition, Emily was a talented athlete. Emily began taking gymnastics lessons while still in preschool and went on to be on the All American Club team, where she excelled and won many medals, mostly in her favorite events: vault and beam. She also competed at State Gymnastic meets several times for the O’Gorman Gymnastics team. Emily’s gymnastics career spanned 11 years.
Emily also participated in competitive cheer for Dakota Spirit and was on the cheer team for one year at O’Gorman. She also ran track and in middle school was the hurdle champion at the All City Track meet. She excelled at the hurdles and triple jump in high school. Her love for running continued and she typically ran six to 12 miles several days a week–with her best friend–her Border Collie, Willow. She aspired to run a marathon one day.
Emily was always a natural with children and served as a nanny for families. She was a hard worker and held part-time jobs throughout high school, even while participating in extra-curricular activities and taking high-level classes.
With a love of the great outdoors, she delighted in hiking and camping adventures. She spent many summers at Norwegian Camp at Concordia Language Villages. Colorado was one of her favorite places where she mastered snowboarding. Emily often said, the best day of her life was the day she and her mom spent at Disney world, riding Splash Mountain over and over again until the park closed.
Emily had a big heart and was thoughtful and kind. Her family was always touched by her homemade, personalized presents. Emily was true to herself and her own individuality. She inspired others to do the same. Our hearts are broken at the loss of this incredibly creative and talented human being. Emily was like a shooting star, bright, beautiful and gone too soon.