ï»¿A lot has changed for Linfield’s Emily Allison since the 2011 women’s soccer season.
Her name, for one thing, is different. And the team’s nickname for her doesn’t quite fit anymore.
“Legally I’m Emily Hanson, but everyone on the team knows me as Em Al,” says the girl wearing the No. 1 game jersey. “It’d be hard to change it now.”
Since marrying Aaron Hanson in June, Emily is one of a very small number of college students to wed prior to graduation.
Close friend and teammate Sara Miller knew both Aaron and Emily before they started dating. “I was a little skeptical at first,” she says. “But at the wedding this summer, everyone could just see how happy they were. I knew it was right for them to be together.”
It certainly means a lot of things have changed since last fall. Since serving as a Resident Advisor in Mahaffey Hall last year, she says she misses the ease of living on campus.
“Commuting from our house in Tigard makes it a little harder, especially during preseason,” she says. “I couldn’t go home between practices, so I usually just crashed in my friends’ apartment. They started referring to their living room as my room,” she laughs.
“It can be a little hard to balance sometimes. But it’s nice to spend evenings at home with Aaron.”
Count women’s soccer coach Dominic Doty as one of those who is impressed. “Not many kids her age could handle what she does, being married and finishing school,” he says. “It’s rare. But Emily clearly made a lot of right decisions and we couldn’t have a better example for the younger players on our team.”
“She’s definitely a good role model, both on and off the field,” teammate Zoe Langsdorf notes. “She’s really consistent and positive.”
Others say that she holds herself and her teammates to high expectations, but is always constructive and kind.
“She’s the kind of person you want to do well for,” says Miller. “Last year, she wasn’t a captain, but people still came to her for help and advice. She’s kind of like our team mom.”
“Em Al lives up to every aspect of her captaincy,” says her coach. “She stands out as a player and creates a great atmosphere on the field. She’s disciplined, genuine, humble, reliable and just a pure pleasure to be around.”
The very fact that Allison is playing for Linfield this year is remarkable. When she arrived at Linfield as a freshman with two years of college credits from an accelerated high school program, there was a strong possibility that she would choose to graduate in the spring of 2012.
“I was so upset when she decided to participate in last year’s Senior Night that I didn’t talk to her for that whole game,” says Miller. “When she texted me later, saying she’d decided to play another year, I just started jumping up and down and cheering.”
“I think we’re all relieved that she’s back,” says Langsdorf. “She’s a really strong part of our defense and brings a lot to our team.”
Doty agrees. “I think I was the happiest man alive when she told me that she wanted to come back for one more season.”
Allison expects to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance, but in the meantime, there’s a soccer season to be played.
“It’s a little sad because it’s my last year, but exciting at the same time because we’re doing so well,” she says.
The 2011 women’s team missed first place in the Northwest Conference by one point. “After last season, I think we were all left wanting a little more,” says Doty.
“We’re not settling for (second place). This is my last year, but we’re going to go out with a bang and really do our best,” says Allison with a glowing smile. “I’m really excited.”
The senior says she has played soccer for her whole life, even practicing with her dad and older sister before she was old enough to be on a team herself.
“My parents have been incredibly supportive. They’ve made it to almost every single one of my games for as long as I’ve played,” she remembers, even citing a few times when they have rearranged travel plans to be present while she played.
“My dad travels a lot, and it’s become a family thing. We lived in Singapore for four months when I was in seventh grade, and we went to Australia and Thailand and Indonesia. I loved traveling and it’s something I would like to keep doing in the future.”
That doesn’t mean she plans to give up soccer. “I’m definitely hoping to stay involved with soccer somehow,” she says. “I’ve worked with some summer camps in the past, and I might be able to get involved at my high school. We’ll see.”
Linfield’s team, more than any other, has made an impression on her, though. “We say, ‘Family’ for our cheer at the end of practice, and it’s really true. We fit together really well. These girls make the difference.”
Allison describes a deep bench of diversely talented girls. She’s eager to see what the season holds for the strong team they’re building.
“We’re still learning, but we’re in a good place and it’s only going to get better,” says Doty.
Allison has high hopes. “My first year, we got third. Last year, we got second. This year,” she says with a grin, “we’re hoping for first!”
Some things, like a competitor’s spirit, just never change.
-- Lexy Chapman '15