By Rich Palzewic
DES MOINES – Former Bay Port athlete Emma Nagel recently capped off her stellar collegiate soccer career by being named the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year.
Nagel, a 2020 Bay Port High School graduate, was recruited out of high school by Drake University, a Division I college in Des Moines, Iowa.
Nagel ended her senior year with nine goals and five assists (23 points) in helping lead the Bulldogs to a 13-4-3 record, a conference regular season championship and a runner-up finish in the MVC tournament.
In 67 career games played, Nagel ended with 18 goals and 10 assists (46 points).
“It was awesome and I’m honored to have received the award,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work that paid off. It attests to what our team accomplished as well. You don’t see teams that finish at the bottom of the conference have a Player of the Year. With our team doing well, the accolades came with it. We also had the Freshman of the Year and the Staff of the Year. I think of the 11 starters, eight or nine of us got awards. I’m honored to bring that award home to Drake.”
The end of a college era
With Drake’s 1-0 loss to Valparaiso in the MVC Tournament title game on Nov. 5, Nagel played her last collegiate game.
“The season didn’t quite end the way we wanted, but for me, I tried to celebrate it as the end of my soccer career,” she said. “We had a really good season – I appreciate that. I tried not to be sad about the final game. Soccer is all I’ve ever known.”
Nagel said she’s excited to enter the new chapter of her life.
“People ask me all the time what my future looks like, but I have no idea,” she laughed. “I’m a semester into graduate school now, and I’ll graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree. After I finish grad school, I’ll have a doctorate in occupational therapy. I think I’ll have some good opportunities.”
Though Nagel said there are some opportunities for women’s soccer post-college, she is content to be done playing.
“Competitively at the collegiate level and a higher level, I’m done playing soccer,” she said. “But, that doesn’t mean I won’t play with my teammates here or there or play in a summer league. I’m going to focus on my career and appreciate my collegiate playing days.”
Bay Port days
Nagel, along with her Bay Port teammates, will go down as one of the most decorated classes of all time in school history.
In 2018, Nagel and her teammates won the WIAA Division I soccer state championship before losing in the state semifinals in 2019.
Nagel also starred on the basketball court, where she helped lead the Pirates to a 2019 Division 1 state title.
Halfway through her senior basketball season, Nagel tore the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in her right knee and was forced to miss the remainder of the year.
“Of course, right after the injury, I was worried about my (athletic) future,” she said. “But shortly after that, I became optimistic and knew it would be okay.”
Though Bay Port made the state tournament that basketball season, the tournament was canceled because of COVID-19.
The 2020 high school soccer season — Nagel’s final year at Bay Port — was also canceled because of COVID-19.
“When I go through the Bay Port hallways and see the gold balls we won, that makes me reminisce and puts a smile on my face,” she said. “I only have good memories of my days there.”