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Emily Thompson: A Legacy Athlete

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“Fearless competitor.”

That’s how her coaches describe student-athlete Emily Thompson CAS ’16. That’s not surprising because the standout soccer forward, track hurdler, and relay competitor comes from a family of outstanding Lewis & Clark athletes.

Emily’s mother, Erin Hedenberg B.A. ’87, M.A.T. ’93, made her mark in soccer at Lewis & Clark. The Hall of Fame soccer player not only played outstanding soccer, she inspired a love of the game in her daughter. When Emily was a child, her mom brought her along to her city league soccer games, which included several Lewis & Clark soccer alumni. Later, she served as Emily’s soccer coach in Hood River.

Emily’s father, attorney Michael Thompson B.A.’84, was an outstanding football player during his tenure at Lewis & Clark.

He was captain of the team, earned the Joe Huston Athlete of the Year Award (1983–84), and was a Hall of Fame nominee for football. Her parents’ love of sports translated into a physically active upbringing for Emily. “We were active as a family,” Emily recalls. “Even my grandparents were always hiking or backpacking. All of them had
a big influence on me.”

Emily's mother, Erin Hedenberg, played soccer for the Pioneers in the 1980s.

Her family’s athleticism motivated her to try different sports in school, where she discovered her passion for soccer and track. Emily is a standout forward for the Pioneer women’s soccer team, scoring six goals last season, many that resulted in wins or tie games. The team finished fourth in conference competition, and Emily was named First-Team All-Northwest Conference. In track, Emily competes in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles and runs the 100-meter and the 4x400-meter relay. Last season, she received All-Conference honors in the 400-meter hurdles.

Playing With the Westside Timbers

Jim Tursi, head women’s soccer coach, says Emily’s competitive spirit makes her a winner. “She’s absolutely fearless, and she loves competing,” he says. “She’s not afraid to take risks or make mistakes. She doesn’t miss an opportunity to score.”

Keith Woodard, director of cross country and track and field, agrees: “Emily is a hard worker, but the number one thing that makes her a great athlete is how competitive she is. She’s a top-notch competitor.” Emily loves competing so much that she spent the past summer driving from her home in Hood River to Portland four times a week as one of the newest members of the Westside Timbers, a semi-pro soccer team affiliated with the professional Portland Timbers.

Competing at a high level in athletics and getting good grades means Emily is incredibly busy. She often goes straight from practice to the library, but she’s used to the pressure. Having supportive teammates helps too. “We motivate each other,” says Emily.

A Family Tradition

Did her family’s athleticism influence her decision to attend Lewis & Clark? Quite the opposite. Lewis & Clark wasn’t on Emily’s radar. “I wanted to go my own way and make my own story,” she says. “At first, the fact that both my parents attended Lewis & Clark actually influenced me away from going here.”

Emily's mother, Erin Hedenberg, played soccer for the Pioneers in the 1980s.Her parents were careful not to pressure her. “We knew Lewis & Clark would be a great fit, but it couldn’t be our idea,” says her dad with a chuckle.

Emily applied to nine schools, with Lewis & Clark winning out. She even came to realize that “it was cool my parents had gone here.”

Last season, at the year-end athletics banquet, the full impact of her parents’ athletic legacies really hit home. “I was picturing my dad receiving the Athlete of the Year award,” she says. “I realized how special it is being part of that family history.”

Her mom says being a Division III school makes Lewis & Clark perfect for Emily. “Lewis & Clark has been better for Emily than either her dad or I ever imagined,” she says. “She gets to play really competitive soccer and still have time to explore other things that interest her. It allows her to be a student first, which is something that’s important to Emily.”

Emily agrees. She says the best part of being a student-athlete at Lewis & Clark is she can have it all. “I get a really good education with interesting classes, and I get to compete at a high level in athletics.”

She’s proud to be part of a Lewis & Clark legacy that’s all in the family.

by Bobbie Hasselbring

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