To have a rock star for a father or to represent our country in the sport we love, many of us must pull our blankets up tight, close our eyes and dream. For Emma Thomson, however, she must only wake up.
The sophomore forward for the University of Alabama soccer team has lived a life that few could imagine. She is the daughter of Dougie Thomson, a former member of the internationally successful band Supertramp. Supertramp has sold more than 60 million albums. His career with Supertramp had concluded long before Emma Thomson’s birth, but he still maintained a career in the music industry as an artist developer for Warner Chappell Music. Dougie Thomson was also beginning his career in music management with the band Disturbed. It was during this time that Emma Thomson found herself becoming fully immersed in the music scene.
“She would go to Disturbed shows when she was two or three,” Dougie Thomson said. “She just got used to being in that environment. They all know her so well now and can’t believe that the baby that they knew is the Emma they know now.”
While children her age were riding bikes in the park, Emma Thomson was driving golf carts backstage at shows with her two brothers, trying to pick out the celebrities who might be sauntering around behind the scenes.
“I always look forward to [Disturbed] touring so I can go back,” Emma Thomson said. “It reminds me of my childhood. My brothers and I were always wondering who was who, who’s the big name, because we didn’t know any better at the time.”
Emma Thomson began her sporting career not on the pitch, but on the diamond.
“Emma played baseball when she was little,” Dougie Thomson said. “But when it got to the age where they didn’t want girls playing baseball, she went to try softball, and I think she lasted two weeks. That was about the time she began playing rec soccer.”
Soccer is a tradition for the Thomson family. Dougie Thomson is a fiery supporter and has coached both Emma Thomson and her older brother Kyle, who now plays professionally in Scotland as a midfielder for Greenock Morton, to multiple national 3v3 titles. The game never leaves the television screen in their home, much to the frustration of their mother. It’s her father’s love and passion for the game that inspired her to start and what she credits for her success.
“I call him after every single game,” Emma Thomson said. “His input is very important to me. Whatever he says goes, so if he says I have a good game, if he says I have a bad game, it’s the truth. He’s always very truthful and honest about my playing, and I think that’s what brought me to be where I am.”
Emma Thomson began her ascent in the game through the Olympic Development Program, playing on a number of teams at the state, regional and national levels. Multiple identification camps followed, most notably one that brought her to Costa Rica, until she finally received her first call up to the U.S. National team to play for the U-14 side. She appeared in multiple games at the U-14, U-15 and U-17 level that sparked the large amount of college interest she received.
“I felt her coming on,” Dougie Thomson said. “I felt that she was getting more of a handle for the game and when she got called up, it was just terrific.”
For Emma Thomson, the emotions of representing her country still sit with her, and she is reminded of them each and every time she takes the field.
“It means everything,” Emma Thomson said. “As a little girl growing up, you want to be a professional. It’s a different thing hearing the national anthem, wearing the crest itself. It gives you chills. Still to this day, every time I hear the national anthem I think about that and making the little me proud.”
After a year-long stint at Penn State, she ultimately found her way to Tuscaloosa. In her first year with the Crimson Tide, she is already making her presence felt, etching her name higher and higher up Head Coach Wes Hart’s team sheet. The Chicago, Illinois native bagged her first goal when Alabama faced DePaul on the road, a game which to her could easily have been deemed a home game.
“Emma has gotten better and better each week and I think has finally found her footing here,” Hart said. “She shows glimpses, even from day one, you could see little glimpses of brilliance, the things that she is doing that maybe others aren’t. She’s got a quickness, a cleverness to her.”
The glimpses that Emma Thomson has been showing this season have resulted in her gaining more and more playing time as the season has worn on. From playing backstage, to playing for her country, to playing for the Crimson Tide, she will be looking to provide those same moments of brilliance as Alabama hosts Kentucky on Thursday, still searching for an elusive first SEC win.