She always had a soccer ball in her room. She would juggle it a few times, and she was pleased. Then she played some games. She scored some goals. Her powerful shot turning heads, people talking, people noticing. She joined a club team, Sporting Blue Valley, and she was pleased. Then she juggled some more. She played in a college showcase. Then, she reached her record of 855 juggles. And in her kitchen, with her mom, it was quiet when she heard it — when she learned she received a scholarship to Creighton University. The kitchen rang with the reality of it. And now, junior Emma Braasch is pleased.
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“I was a really energetic child, and I definitely felt like soccer was an easy way to get my energy out,” Braasch said. “And I know this sounds bad, but I just liked pushing people around, and I had two brothers, so I was always pushed around. It was just a nice outlet for me to let out my anger.”
A naturally competitive person, Braasch took to soccer immediately. She was a good fit for the forward positon; her drive to score goals, her natural inclination to lead and her powerful shot and aggressiveness on the field propelled her through the game. Though her main position is as a forward, she is also a very versatile player, as she must be for college.
As Braasch matured as a player, she attended more practices with her club team, going to two, two-hour practices a week, as well as playing for the varsity East team. Playing for her club team comes with the experience of frequent out-of-state travel for tournaments and showcases. Not only has this given Braasch a chance to grow closer to her teammates, but has also given her a chance to show off her talents to coaches from universities — and that’s how she got noticed.
In a showcase at the Overland Park Soccer Complex, a coach from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, responded immediately to what he saw Braasch do at the showcase. Her aggressiveness and speed on the field was outstanding. She was offered a partial scholarship to Creighton University, along with five other recruits for the 2015-2016 school year as a Division I player. Though Braasch is still just a junior, she is already prepping for her future college soccer career.
“I definitely want to keep getting stronger, and lifting weights on a daily basis which I will need in college, and just connecting passes on the field, and team chemistry,” Braasch said. “Hopefully we will build that in college.”
Braasch knows that one of the most important aspects of playing soccer is the necessity of a solid connection within the team members. She knows that having the right team chemistry and having everyone work together is one of the hardest things to do in soccer, but one of the most essential parts of the game.
“I think when I play the best is when I’m getting with all the girls and when I know them well is when we work well together,” Braasch said. “I quit tennis my freshman year because I just didn’t like how it was so individual and solo, but I just really like being a part of a team, and I work best with a team because everything is a team effort such as if you lose, you lose as a team and it isn’t just your fault.”
For Braasch, soccer is a time when her mind is completely blank. Completely focused. It’s just the sound of her heavy breathing, the sound of feet whipping grass, the pound of soccer balls meeting the crossbar; it’s what she does. It’s the clicking of cleats nearby on the sidewalk, the colorful fold-up chairs lined up on the sideline nice and neat. It’s home.
And when Braasch is on the field, it’s her team that drives her through the game. They work the field together. They share every victory and moment on the field, as well as the ones off the field. They can say that they won together. They beat the other team together. And when Braasch scores in a game, she can say that she scored for them, that she contributed to a greater cause. Not just for herself, but for a team.
For now, Braasch doesn’t anticipate having a career in soccer after college. What she does know, however, is that she will revel in every moment spent on the field. For her, every juggle was worth it. All 855 of them. And she is pleased.