When asking people what their favorite animal is, "goat" usually isn’t what people pick. But Gig Harbor High School senior soccer player Emery Wallerich thinks the gentle creature gets a bad rap.
"They have a lot of personality," Wallerich said, with a laugh. "A lot of people wouldn’t think that. Their eyes make them look really stupid, but they’re really friendly and cute and have great personalities."
Wallerich’s love of animals has been a big part of her life since she was a kid. Growing up on a farm, Wallerich got to interact with dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, horses and more.
So when it came time to decide where she wanted to continue her soccer career, finding a school with a good veterinarian program was crucial. Her choice: Oregon State University, where she’ll get to study her passion and also suit up as a defender for the Beavers.
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"I wanted a school that I could academically do what I want, plus soccer," Wallerich said. "I wanted to go somewhere big. The campus is beautiful; it’s gorgeous. I never really knew anything about Corvallis. It’s definitely a college town. There’s a lot going on that surrounds the school."
Someday, Wallerich wants to become a wildlife veterinarian.
"It’d be awesome just to see the different kinds of animals we live with," Wallerich said.
Wallerich has been a star defender for the Tides soccer team ever since she first stepped onto campus. She earned a spot on varsity as a freshman and immediately contributed.
"That was really cool for me," she said. "That brought my attention to where my skills could actually go."
While she plays center midfield for her current club team, Harbor FC Premier, she expects to play her natural position of defensive midfielder for the Beavers.
The 5-foot-10 defender was an integral part of Gig Harbor’s wild postseason run in the fall, which ended in the Class 4A state semifinals. The Tides won several district and state playoff games in overtime penalty kicks — the most nerve-racking way to possibly win games.
"It was definitely fun," Wallerich said. "I think it brought us really close together. It was so stressful. (Coach) Dani (States) was having mini heart attacks on the sideline. We were all clenching. It was probably not the ideal way to make it, but it worked."
Wallerich said she’s looking forward to some new experiences.
"I guess because I’ve been with the same group of girls since I was so little — changing teams and seeing how other people play at the next level — that’ll be really cool to see," she said.
Wallerich said she’s grateful for all the love and support she’s received from family and friends.
"Everyone is really supportive," Wallerich said. "If you meet someone from Gig Harbor, they’re very supportive of you. When people hear I’m going to OSU, they just get so excited. It’s nice."