Pringle Captains New Generation At Simon Fraser
Emma Pringle finished with a conference-leading 11 goals and 63 shots to go with two assists to earn her third straight first-team nod as a junior in 2018.
Emma Pringle finished with a conference-leading 11 goals and 63 shots to go with two assists to earn her third straight first-team nod as a junior in 2018.
Emma Pringle
Emma Pringle

Monday, November 23, 2020
by Kaho Akau, GNAC Media Relations Assistant

BURNABY, B.C. – Emma Pringle is one of the top women’s soccer players in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. So when she was sidelined for the entire 2019 season due to injury, her world was turned upside down.

Pringle tore her ACL while playing summer soccer in July 2019, right before she was expected to take the field for her senior season at Simon Fraser University. Minus a few setbacks here and there, her rehab has gone well. She’s taking the process slowly but, at the same time, she’s eager to get back to 100 percent.

“I look forward to being back on the pitch and competing as soon as possible,” Pringle said.

A native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Pringle started playing soccer when she was 5 years old, creating a close bond with her father, Steve, who shares the same passion for soccer. She chose to attend Simon Fraser to stay close to home and receive a well-rounded college experience. Playing for SFU also gave her a chance to once again play in front of her family.

“He’s my number one supporter and loves the game just as much as I do,” she said about her father.

Pringle sent a message to the rest of the conference when she arrived in 2016. She started in all 17 matches, scoring nine goals and distributing three assists to help send Simon Fraser to its first GNAC Championships in program history. Named the GNAC Freshman of the Year, Pringle went on to earn First Team All-GNAC and Second Team Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region honors.

As a sophomore, Pringle picked up right where she left off, scoring 14 goals and dishing out three assists. She followed that with a stellar junior campaign, leading the conference with 63 shots and 11 goals and finishing second with 24 points. She was selected to the All-GNAC and D2CCA All-West Region first teams in each of those seasons.

“I was lucky to play alongside talented players who helped me elevate my game and I was rewarded for how much work I put into my craft,” she said. “I work on bettering myself and I am proud that I can produce great results for my team with my abilities and hard work.”

Simon Fraser lost six starting seniors to graduation after the 2018 season, including the GNAC Player of the Year in Jenna-lee Baxter, who now serves as an assistant under head coach Annie Hamel. Pringle’s ACL injury meant that seven of the 11 starters from 2018 wouldn’t return to Terry Fox Field in 2019.

A young and rebuilding Simon Fraser team felt the impacts of Pringle’s absence. The team was competitive in a lot of its matches but struggled to finish strong and get in the win column. Despite its record, SFU showed signs of improvement as the season progressed and landed three players on the all-conference team.

“Everyone truly realized just how big a part she played in the program when we didn’t have her,” Hamel said. “Emma has meant so much to the program in terms of what she brings to the team on both sides of the ball. She has an enormous presence and can change games in a moment. We had come to rely on her so much that her absence was loud and heavy.”

Being a team captain isn’t an easy task for anyone to take on. It was worse for Pringle, who felt detached from the rest of the group. Because she was fresh off of surgery, she couldn’t travel with the team on road trips and missed a lot of training sessions. After watching all of the home games, she knew that the team needed a little more time to put all the pieces together.

Standing on the sideline forced Pringle to adapt to a new temporary role as a player-coach. She isn’t the cheerleading type of leader and usually lets her performance do the talking. She had to learn how to be more of a vocal leader, which was extremely difficult since she wasn’t always around for every match and practice to show the younger players what Simon Fraser soccer is all about.

“I felt powerless watching my team struggle,” Pringle said. “We had worked so hard to get to where we were in the previous years and to achieve what we did so it was difficult to be off the pitch. Moving forward, I think we’ll find good form again. It won’t just happen overnight. We will need to continue to work, come together and become in love with winning again.”

There are just three seniors on the Simon Fraser women’s soccer team. That includes Pringle, who is one of two fifth-year seniors on the squad.

Pringle followed in the footsteps of a handful of players who developed a winning culture in Burnaby. Now that she’s the captain of a team that’s primarily made up of underclassmen, it’s her turn to set an example of how SFU soccer should be played.

“They were an exceptional group and I learned so much from their work ethic, commitment to the program and amazing friendships we all continue to share,” Pringle said of her former teammates. “Being an upperclassman and having my chance to lead the team didn’t happen last year because of my injury, but I am doing the best that I can to continue to teach the younger players the same lessons that were taught to me.”

Although she’s not quite physically ready to take the field again, Pringle has felt a sense of responsibility for how the team has developed in her absence. She is immersed in improving the program, even while on the sideline, which tells her teammates everything they need to know about her devotion to them. Injured or healthy, playing or not, she constantly carries that sense of responsibility with her.

“Emma is even a better person than she is a player,” Hamel said. “She garners an incredible amount of respect from her teammates and our staff. She is quiet and very humble. She doesn’t like the spotlight but it follows her. She truly is the hardest worker I have ever been around. Going through her rehab process was and is an amazing thing to watch.”

Regardless of how the 2019 season went, Pringle is proud of the culture and chemistry that the team has built. Every day, she embodies the Simon Fraser culture. And every day, her teammates watch and follow her lead.

Winning doesn’t happen overnight and Pringle understands that growth is more important. It’s about experiencing a positive environment and facing tough lessons along the way as a team. It’s about making memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

“Originally, I think we wanted to set the record straight and get back to our winning ways,” Pringle said. “Now we just want to enjoy each other every day because we don’t know what the future holds.”