“You’re either going to work hard or I’m going to drag you off of this field!”
That’s what Millikan girls’ soccer captain Emily Barham tells her teammates before every game.
“I haven’t had to drag a girl off yet,” she said. “They know if they’re not working hard I will pull them off by their pony tail and they’ll sit their butts on the bench.”
Despite playing less than 35 games with the Rams, the center back Barham has quickly become a team captain in less than two years at the school. First-place Millikan will be at Wilson tonight at 5 p.m. for an important Moore League matchup in a rescheduled game.
“Obviously she’s wired a little bit different,” Millikan coach Tino Nunez said. “Right away at training she put a stamp on things with the way she worked and what she’s about. You could tell it was going to be a good thing for the group.”
Barham and her fellow defenders on the back line have only allowed one goal in league play this season.
“She’s a gamer,” Nunez said of Barham. “You know what she’s going to give you, and you know she’s going to sacrifice everything. It’s contagious throughout the group when you see that.”
Not many players in any sport can win the respect of his or her teammates in less than a full season, but Barham and Millikan aren’t what anyone would call typical.
“This is a different kind of team than I’ve ever played for,” Barham said. “It’s straight heart and passion. All of these girls are my sisters.”
Barham learned to play soccer alongside her actually twin sister, Nicole, and they started their high school soccer careers together at Los Alamitos High. Emily thought she might be done with the sport when she transferred to Millikan as a junior, but was immediately impressed with the Rams program.
“I knew I wanted to come to Millikan ever since I was at (Stanford) middle school,” Barham said. “I didn’t really want to leave Long Beach. I like the culture and I like playing for where I’m from.”
“These are my people,” she added. “This is where I enjoy the game the most. For me, soccer is all about competing and loving who you’re playing with and loving who you’re playing for. I found that at Millikan.”
We caught up with Barham this week to talk about what she does off of the soccer field…
Question: Do you have any hobbies outside of school and soccer?
Answer: I surf and skate almost every day. I like to surf the cliffs near Huntington Beach, and skate at El Dorado. I go with my best friend Nicole Peckham. She’s probably why I love this school so much. I came here and met my best friend for life, and girls I’m going to be friends with for life. That’s just Millikan. It happened in less than a year and a half.
Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: History or English. But I have a math teacher right now, Mr. McFarland, he’s probably my favorite person in the whole world right now, and one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. He made me love math even though I’m horrible at it. I have an A in the class because he works with me, and all of the teachers I’ve had here are amazing. Even the staff too— I’m just so lucky and happy to be here.
Q: Do you read a lot?
A: I love books. I write poems and stuff all of the time. I just read Damned by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club. It was really good.
Q: Who is your favorite poet?
A: I like anonymous journals so you don’t know who is behind the words. You make something through your words.
Q: Do you write about soccer?
A: Never. Soccer is where I come to compete. I write more about everything else I’ve been though in my life. I have to put it somewhere. I have a lot to say.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to most?
A: Biggie Smalls, Warren G and Nate Dogg. I love old aggressive rap music. That’s my stuff.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Step Brothers or Talladega Nights.
Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: I really like The Office, and Sons Of Anarchy.
Q: Who are your favorite characters?
A: Creed. And Jax.
Q: Do you have any superstitions or things you do before a game?
A: I definitely have routines. The day before the game we go to the park for a pickup game of soccer or frisbee to get our minds off of it. And if my parents let me, we go surfing in the morning before the game.
I drive my brothers old car and I wear my sisters sliders every game because it’s weird not playing on the same field as here because we’ve played on the same field for so long. I’m just trying to surround myself with good vibes. I’ve got the headphones in all day, and I come in ready to execute.