Sea Lion Spotlight of the Week: Meet Emma Thrapp

Photo courtesy of PLNU Athletics

Named First Team All-PacWest (Pacific West Conference) selection for her third-straight year and 2023 Defender of the Year, Point Loma Nazarene University’s Emma Thrapp led the women’s soccer team to their fourth PacWest title in five years. 

Thrapp is a fourth-year business marketing major, whose soccer journey began at four years old. She joined club soccer at eight years old and competed through high school. She played on the Temecula Hawks, which was later named Legends.

Thrapp has always played the position defense.

 “I was never one who wanted to score a goal; I just wanted to make sure that the other team couldn’t,” Thrapp said.

Prior to PLNU, Thrapp graduated from Temecula Valley High School where she played on the varsity women’s soccer team.

According to PLNU Athletics, during Thrapp’s high school career, she was a team captain and named three-time First Team All-League selection, First Team All-CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) her sophomore year, team most valuable player and All-League defensive most valuable player her senior year.

She verbally committed to PLNU during her sophomore year.

Thrapp shared her initial desire to play for a Division 1 school but was sold on the culture of PLNU.

 “This place stood out to me because it cares about you as a person. You know, spiritually, athletically, academically,” Thrapp said.

Thrapp was named 2023 pre-season PacWest defender of the year. This title is based on projections and votes by PacWest coaches.

“Winning pre-season PacWest defender of the year doesn’t mean much if I don’t back it up. It was nice but I knew I needed to keep working,” Thrapp said.

According to Thrapp, being named PacWest [all-conference] defender of the year was exciting, yet she gave credit to her teammates.

“Any of my fellow defenders could have won this award. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many good players,” Thrapp said.

PLNU women’s soccer winning the 2023 PacWest champions title is especially important for them because it is their first year being champions. 

“This is the first year this group of seniors has out-right won this conference title. It was super special and meant a lot to us. We’re very excited to be in the spot we’re in, especially headed into the postseason,” Thrapp said.

According to Thrapp, in obtaining this success so far in the season, there are things PLNU women’s soccer lives by: caring deeply for one another off the field and pushing each other on the field.

“What sets our program apart is how much the coaches, faculty and kids they recruit care so deeply for one another and have a heart of service,” Thrapp said.

The team traveled to Uganda, Africa for a mission trip through the organization Sports Outreach in the summer of 2023.

“That was an eye-opening experience to go and serve with my teammates. Our team this year has served each other really well,” Thrapp said.

According to Thrapp, the trip took about a year to plan and prepare. The time they spent there consisted of things such as manual labor, farming, gardening and hosting soccer clinics.

“We saw kids run out with their bare feet just excited to be there. I think it made us appreciate [soccer] and gain a new perspective on life, and we’ve taken that mindset into the season,” Thrapp said.

Thrapp emphasized how the team pulling memories from the trip and applying them to their game has played a big part in their success. 

“That trip helped us remember the fun and the joy of the sport,” Thrapp said.

According to Thrapp, before every game, the team receives a devotion from a member of PLNU.

 “It’s fun to have someone outside of the program [athletics] come in — people we don’t ever really hear from — so sometimes it’s just nice to hear a new voice,” Thrapp said.

Taking part in a devotional with her teammates allows Thrapp the unique opportunity to mentally prepare for the match. 

“It’s nice to recenter yourself and not be so amped on a game and to hear from someone you never get to hear from. It’s cool the way God works in that way,” Thrapp said.

Earning the No. 1 seed in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) West Regional Championship gave the team home-field advantage for the first and second rounds. The rounds took place on Nov. 16 and 17.

According to Thrapp, this is the first year the team earned the right to host.

“We’re so thankful. The fans have been so awesome this year. Being able to be here for what is a super large game is so awesome,” Thrapp said. “It’s super encouraging to be surrounded by people who want you to do well. And also to just sleep in your bed and be in control of your own food and be able to go to class and not have to worry about school like if I were traveling.” 

Reflecting on the player she is today, Thrapp honors her coach from the Hawks, Carlos Basso. 

Basso taught her how to hit the ball with every piece of her foot, according to Thrapp.

“He developed me into having the confidence to be on the ball as a defender. Training with him increased my touch,” Thrapp said.

Thrapp also recognizes her high school coach, Jen Guinn. 

“She [Guinn] got me into the sport. She loves [it] so much and brings a super fun energy into the sport. She made it fun,” Thrapp said. “She taught me that soccer doesn’t have to be a stressful thing, but it can be a carefree thing.”

Thrapp grew up in a family that immersed themselves in soccer. Her sister, Juliet, is a junior in high school and recently committed to play soccer at PLNU.

Thrapp’s brother, Garrett, is a third-year at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. 

“He doesn’t play sports collegiately, but he’s one of those guys that’s good at every sport,” Thrapp said.

Her mother, Jessica, teaches first grade and her father, Gary, teaches middle school.

“They’re a huge supporting force and I’m so, so thankful for them,” Thrapp said.

“Sports is a part of my family, deeply. My parents are at every home game. They’re so invested in sports in general. That influenced me and my siblings as we grew up.” 

Thrapp isn’t done with PLNU soccer yet. She is using her COVID year eligibility to play one more season.

After receiving a degree in marketing, Thrapp wants to stay in sports. She is considering working with a team or a firm but is remaining open to different opportunities.

Reflecting on her time so far with PLNU soccer, Thrapp acknowledges her teammates. 

“I’m so blessed that God has put me in this spot with 32 other girls at the same exact time. They are some of my best friends,” Thrapp said.

With her years of experience playing soccer, the sport means a tremendous amount to Thrapp.

“[Soccer’s] like a teacher in my life. You know how you’re in school for like 16 years; soccer’s been like a teacher for me for 16 years,” Thrapp said. “It’s taught me what hard work and resilience looks like. It’s taught me how to work with others; it’s brought me some of my best friends. It’s taught me how to cheer others on and celebrate their victories, accomplishments and wins. It’s taught me how to cope with my own mistakes. The sport has deeply influenced who I am today.”

“It can tear you down mentally, but it can also be a place of genuine resilience,” Thrapp said.

According to Thrapp, outside of soccer, she loves to get involved with other sports teams. She was a part of the making of a female athlete Bible study group, open to all teams and takes place on Friday mornings. 

“That creates a good space to meet with these people outside of athletics because it can be all you do sometimes,” Thrapp said.

She has been on the student athletic leadership team for three years where she was the vice president last year and again this year.

Thrapp’s hobbies include reading, scrapbooking, pickleball, bike riding with her roommates and crocheting with her team; she also loves being outside. 

A piece of advice Thrapp would give to a student-athlete is to be in the moment. 

“Enjoy your time and do your best to be in the present,” Thrapp said. We’re in a super amazing place with amazing people playing sports at a very competitive level and it can be easy to look at the next thing, so try to be present with where you’re at because it goes by extremely fast. Take it all in — for the good and bad that it is.”