Emily Tanaka, a senior
on the women's soccer team, tells us about how she's grown as a person through
her time at Pepperdine and what Pepperdine and this team have meant to her:
Q: How did you get into playing soccer?
A: I started playing AYSO soccer when I was 5 in Hawai'i. Just kids kicking the ball around and I never really stopped! I thought I might try other sports but soccer just stuck with me.
Q: Being from Hawai'i, how did you choose to come to California and play for Pepperdine?
A: There was an older girl on the team before me from Hawai'i who was a senior when I was a freshman. She was someone that I really looked up to when we played club together. When Coach Tim (Ward) approached me about coming to play at Pepperdine and I saw the school and met the team, I knew I wanted to come here. However, a lot of it stemmed from the influence my old teammate, Ally Holtz.
Q: Being a senior this year, how has your role on the team shifted?
A: I've definitely taken on more of a role model and leader role this year. I may not play the most minutes out of my class, who are all very talented, but I've taken on a role as supporter, encourager and hard worker. For me it was a struggle to transition into that role but it's been very rewarding.
Q: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?
A: I want us to win the WCC and with the incredible team we have now I think that we have the opportunity to possibly win the national championship. I don't want us to settle for anything less than what we are capable of.
Q: What are you looking forward to as the season ends?
A: I'm looking forward to possibly winning the WCC championship at home. Last year we won it at Pacific, which was great. But, winning it at home this year would be amazing. Also going to the NCAAs would be great.
Q: How has Pepperdine soccer shaped the person that you are today?
A: I've definitely changed a lot. I used to just go through the motions and do what was comfortable to me, but now I have higher goals and expectations for myself. That's the biggest thing that I think has changed for me. Also, how I interact with people around me, I no longer think just about myself because I have a team of 30 girls to look after.
Q: What would you say to soccer recruits interested in Pepperdine?
A: Definitely consider coming here! On the surface, Pepperdine is a great program and very competitive, but there's so much more. There are people here who care about you, who want to see you succeed and who will watch out for you.
Q: What are your plans post-graduation?
A: I want to take a year off to work abroad or get other new experiences. Then I'm going to apply to law school.
Q: What has been your favorite memory with Pepperdine soccer?
A: Singing "We Are the Champions" on the bus ride back from Pacific last year!