Tufts alum Blumstein was 'natural leader'
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 07:09
Emma Blumstein (LA ’10), known for her unyielding stamina on the rugby pitch and celebrated by a wide circle of friends and family for her charisma and positivity, died June 12 in a bicycle accident in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was 24.
At Tufts she confidently earned the respect and love of the Tufts women’s rugby team, whose players named Blumstein MVP after her sophomore year and thrived under her leadership as captain. She served as an anchor for the whole team, close friend and fellow rugby player, Alex Schuman (LA ’09) said.
“She was definitely a natural leader, which was kind of funny because on the team she’s not the one that’s yelling at people to get in line,” Shuman said. “She was kind of quiet, [but] people just went to her for advice, they went to her when they needed help.”
Blumstein came to Tufts from Brookline, Mass. She graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Film Studies.
Blumstein’s crowning as Homecoming Queen her senior year only made official what those close to her were already sure of: that to know Emma was to love her. The rugby community eagerly supported her campaign – alumni cheered her on via Facebook and some even came back to Tufts to see Blumstein crowned.
“Everyone just immediately felt like a family and felt together,” Schuman said.
On a May 2008 road trip across the country, Emma joined her friend and Brookline neighbor Becca Russell-Einhorn in a quest to complete “research and development on anything that resides between two pieces of carbohydrates.” Calling themselves “Team Sandwich,” the pair drove from Claremont, Cal. to Brookline, consuming exclusively sandwiches for lunch, dinner and, if possible, breakfast.
Between the Subway Footlongs, chili cheeseburgers and breakfast burritos, Russell-Einhorn said she and Blumstein found friendly people and just enough trouble to make their road trip an adventure.
“When you’re the kind of friend where you can be three feet away from each other for 12 days, that’s a different kind of friendship,” Russell-Einhorn said.
In Memphis, they misplaced their car and found only the unsympathetic local sheriff’s department to turn to for help. As Team Sandwich drove around town in a police cruiser with an officer in the front seat, searching for the parking garage where they had left the car, Blumstein turned around from the front seat and looked at her friend.
“She just looks at me and says, ‘I think we’re in the movie ‘Superbad,’” Russell-Einhorn said. “It was the most stressful thing turned into the funniest part of the trip.”
“I was freaking out, but she was so calm,” she said. “Her personality was very go-with-the-flow and very chill about things. She was the person who could calm down other people. She was attuned to that.”
Rebecca Spiewak, a senior and member of the rugby team, remembers Blumstein as a mentor and said that as captain, Blumstein was able to put her teammates at ease even with a sport as daunting as rugby.
“She was also so hilarious [that] it would have been difficult not to love being around her,” Spiewak told the Daily in an email.
In a 2008 Daily article about making plans for marriage during college, Blumstein spoke about her wish for a steady family life without the need for legal validation.
“I do not need a ring or the American government to tell me that my relationship is validated in their eyes,” Blumstein told the Daily. “I do want a relationship similar to marriage, though – one with a continuous partner.”
“She just made everyone have fun in life, like a significant amount of fun,” Russell-Einhorn said. “She set the standard for cool without trying. Or pretending not to care, at least.”
Blumstein lived in San Francisco following graduation, then returned home to Massachusetts before moving to Brooklyn. She had been taking classes to prepare for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and working to save money for graduate school.
She was killed in June in an accident with a vehicle while she was riding her bike. No charges have been filed against the driver.