Emma Reynolds knows exactly how hard it is to be the new kid.
And she did everything she could to make it easier for the new, new kids.
Reynolds is a junior on the New Foundations Charter High School girls soccer team, and she’s been a mainstay in the Bulldogs lineup.
When she got there freshman year, Reynolds was a young player on an experienced team, and it could have been very hard to mix in with the veterans.
Luckily, her squad included the most welcoming teammates around, and she was able to absorb everything she needed to know about getting started in varsity soccer from them.
“That year, I was the only freshman, but it really encouraged me to step up and work hard because I made the team,” said Reynolds, who lives in Torresdale. “I got to play and we ended up winning the championship, which was very exciting. And we had some good leaders. It was rocky, but I learned a lot and the girls helped me.”
This year, as a junior, her role drastically changed.
Instead of being the newcomer, Reynolds was the one rallying the troops. And she did a fine job doing that.
And she found out she’s a pretty darn good leader.
“This year we had a lot of losses, it was a struggle getting girls on the team, but as a captain, I told them if we become a team, it could go our way,” said Reynolds, who led the Bulldogs to the Penn-Jersey Athletic Association championship game, where the Lions fell to AIM Academy. “And it did, we were first in our league and made the championship. We fought really hard, it just didn’t go our way.
“I was really proud of the team. I think we played really well as a team. We had some great seniors, and we had some really young players. We had a lot of freshmen who had to play for us, because we didn’t have a lot of players. But we really did pretty well, we played well as a team and went pretty far. We got back to the championship.”
Reynolds’ leadership skills may have been a huge reason for the Bulldogs’ success this year, but so did her play on the field.
In fact, she broke the 100-goal plateau for her career this year, and finished the season with 110 career markers.
It marks the first time a New Foundations girls soccer player scored 100 goals. Every goal she tacks on during her senior year will establish a new school record.
Like a good leader, she’s proud of the achievement, but more so the accomplishments of her teammates, whom she credits with helping her reach the historic milestone.
“It’s kind of shocking, I didn’t realize I had so many, but it’s very exciting, I think,” Reynolds said. “My secret? I don’t really have one other than, I guess, it’s a lot of help from my teammates to get the ball to me. You just have to have confidence when you’re playing, take the ball yourself when you know you have the chance. It wasn’t just me who did it, my teammates really helped me get it. I think that made it more fun.”
Reynolds was great in just about every game, but when the stakes were high, she was at her best. She scored five goals in her team’s semifinal win that put the Bulldogs in the finals. That was important to her because that was the round the they were ousted from the playoffs a season ago.
“I think my best game was when I scored five goals in the semifinals because we really wanted to win that game,” Reynolds said. “It was important for all of us to make the championship game.”
Just as she was quick to point out how much her teammates mean to her, she also appreciates how much her coach Tim Burke has done for her and her squad.
“Our coach is a great coach, he always makes sure we’re doing what we have to do, and he’s so supportive,” Reynolds said. “He’ll text after every game and tell us we did well whether we win or lose. He goes over things we mess up. He cares a lot. He always wants to see us do better.”
The feeling is mutual.
“She’s a great leader and makes those around her better,” Burke said of his star. “I’ve been around the game a while and she has the ability few have to score with either foot and head.”
Next year, she has another opportunity to bring a championship to New Foundations, and hang another banner in the gym. But either way, she’s proud of what she’s already accomplished as a Bulldog.
“My 100th goal was special because because it’s a great accomplishment, it was the first-ever in school history,” Reynolds said. “I’m going to have a banner in the gym, my name will be on the wall. I’m very excited. It’s a great school, the teachers are amazing, the classes are hard so you’re learning, and they make you feel welcome.
“I have high hopes to make it to the championship (next year) and win. That’s all I want. I don’t care about how many goals I score, I really want our team to do well. It’s not about me scoring. Others will score. As long as I can help us make the championship, that’s all that matters.”