By Kacie McMahon
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Texas A&M has again proven to be a women's soccer powerhouse as the team earned its 15th consecutive NCAA tournament bid Monday. Playing in the national tournament is nothing new to the Aggies, especially senior defender Emily Peterson.
A&M's soccer reputation is part of what lured Peterson to College Station, along with knowing many of the girls on the team and enjoying the school's spirit.
"When you come down for a visit and watch a game here, there are probably 3,000 to 4,000 people in the stands," Peterson said. "And then knowing the girls and seeing the atmosphere; all of that together just made me choose this place."
A&M is definitely happy to have her. The Oklahoma native has received three Academic All-District awards, was named the newcomer of the year as a freshman, is a two-time A&M defensive MVP, and has been selected to the All-Big 12 first and second teams throughout her career.
She is also in the running for the Lowe's Senior Class Award - a national award based on classroom achievement, community involvement, character, and competition. Fans can vote daily by texting w9 to 74567. Fan voting makes up one-third of the contest and ends Friday.
Despite Peterson's individual achievements, she values team success and the bonds she has formed with teammates.
"I think when you look back, you're just going to enjoy the relationships that you made, and the friends you made that are going to stick with you the rest of your life," she said.
Peterson says her dream was always to play collegiate soccer and although her talent is natural, her athletic career did not come easy. She was born without a left arm and had to learn how to play sports with a prosthetic limb. She says it's been motivational.
"I think just in general you want to go out and prove yourself; kind of prove people wrong and prove that you can do things" Peterson said of overcoming her handicap.
The defender has proven herself to the A&M fan base as well as the Mays Business School, where she is part of the honors program. With a 3.921 GPA as an undergraduate of finance, Peterson credits her academic success to her desire to always be first.
"I think it's just kind of the competitive side to be honest," Peterson said. "If I was in a class and someone else was going to get an 'A,' then I was going to get an 'A.'"
Her success in the classroom has earned her a full-time job working for Credit Suisse in Houston, but she will first take a semester off to travel the world before returning to Texas to begin work in July.
For now Peterson is looking forward to the possibility of returning to College Station for the NCAA finals. Texas A&M is hosting nationals for the second time since Peterson joined the team.
A&M hosted the event in 2007, when Emily received a medical redshirt for a foot injury. The Aggies failed to reach the Final Four that year, leaving Peterson and the rest of the team disappointed.
"It's awful seeing someone else win a national championship on your home field," she said.
The Aggies lost in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament and Emily thinks they will use the loss to motivate them for the NCAA tournament. She and the team head to Baton Rouge this weekend to play Memphis in the first round.
"If we could get to the final four, it would be a dream come true," Peterson said. "Senior year, to end it here and play again on our home field -it would mean a lot. I hope we can do it."