The ability to create while staying composed under pressure has been a useful tool for Wilson girls’ soccer captain Emma Harper in the classroom, on the soccer field and at the piano.
“Emma is a seasoned veteran who never gets emotionally rattled during even the most emotional of games,” Wilson coach Dalton Kaufman said. “She is one of the most disciplined and composed players I have coached at Wilson. But don’t let her calm demeanor fool you. She is a ferocious competitor with a never-say-die attitude.”
Harper is back for her second year as Wilson girls’ soccer team captain and dynamic holding midfielder after growing up as a true local product. She played soccer, softball and participated in gymnastics while attending Gant Elementary and Stanford Middle schools. Harper decided to pursue her favorite sport, soccer, with the newly formed Beach FC when she was in fourth grade because of the comradery.
“I really like the team environment and working with other people,” Harper said. “I like being in those situations where that competitiveness comes through. My brothers always played sports and they pushed me to work harder.”
Harper’s older brothers Ross and Brett both played sports at Wilson. Ross played water polo, and Brett was a star on the baseball and football field. Both of them went on to play in college, and Brett was an All-CIF Scholar-Athlete in 2012.
“My brothers set great examples for me,” Harper said. “I was worried (about being looked at as Brett’s younger sister) because he was a big deal there. But I guess I was able to put that aside and make a name for myself.”
Harper played multiple positions on the soccer field for AYSO and Beach FC, but playing in the midfield and central defense comes most naturally.
“I didn’t really watch that much soccer on TV, but I did go to the Long Beach State women’s soccer games because I live right across the street from the college,” Harper said. “That’s why I ended up at Beach FC.”
After winning multiple tournaments and championships at Beach FC, Harper had to choose between attending Wilson or Long Beach Poly, where her mom went.
“I chose Wilson because my brothers went there and my friends go there now,” Harper said. “I can’t imagine (going to Poly) but I do sometimes think about it. I’m glad with the choice I made. At Wilson we have a great group of girls who get along really well, and Dalton is a great coach who really encourages us to work together. It’s not always about the outcome, it’s more about the journey.”
The road was a bumpy one for Wilson last year with unexpected losses, including one at home against the Jackrabbits. Kaufman said the third-place finish in league is a disappointment for his program, and his senior leaders agree.
“That was a tough loss that I will use as motivation for this year,” Harper said. “We have to push through the entire game and not let up at any moment. The game can change in an instant.”
Harper added that being a shy person made leadership difficult when she was younger, but familiarity has helped her feel more comfortable as a captain.
“I know that I have the girls’ respect and I respect them so we have a good relationship where I can get on them and they can take it,” Harper said.
Next year, Harper will be taking her talents to Chapman University where she’s looking forward to continuing her soccer career while making academics a priority. She currently has a GPA over 4.0 and wants to study computer science.
Harper also is a classically trained pianist who has been playing for 12 years.
“I like playing Ragtime because it’s jazzy and a different style that is really chill and allows you to improvise and do what you want,” Harper said.
She has taught piano lessons for the last four years with older and younger students.
“My parents really value academics, athletics and music so me and my brothers all took piano lessons,” Harper said. “My parents want us to play for the family, and my friends always want me to learn new songs, so I had to get used to that. I’m not one to show off. I’m kind of shy like that. Piano has allowed me to express myself.”
The Bruins will open Moore League play today at home against Cabrillo. Harper scored three of her four goals during league play last season.
“We’re ready to go at it,” Harper said of her team. “We’re looking pretty good this year and we have a lot of athleticism. The underclassmen are pushing the upperclassmen to work hard, and vice versa, so I think we have a great shot at bringing the league title back to Wilson.”
Moore League Girls’ Soccer Schedule (Dec. 5)
LB Poly at Millikan, 6 p.m.
Cabrillo at Wilson, 5 p.m.
Lakewood at Jordan, 6 p.m.