Growing up in a family that loved the game of soccer, I was drawn to the sport at a very young age.
All of my four siblings were playing, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
It wasn’t a matter of being pushed into it either; I genuinely wanted to play because everyone else was doing it.
And before I knew it, soccer became less about getting to be with everybody and more about my love for the game.
That’s how this whole journey began.
Being from Hawaii, it’s not easy to break into the soccer scene.
We’re isolated from the mainland, and our competition is limited.
We play the same few teams over and over again.
To have a chance at getting recruited, we had to venture out to the mainland for tournaments and camps.
California became a frequent destination, along with Arizona and other states. It felt like we were always chasing opportunities and trying to keep up with the players from other soccer-rich areas.
It was tough, but we made the most of it.
The recruiting process was an exciting and nerve-wracking experience.
I was recruited to Oakland University because our head coach had ties to Hawaii.
He used to coach in San Diego and would often attend camps there.
He saw me at the last camp before COVID hit, and things just fell into place.
Before committing to Oakland, I had the chance to visit the campus twice.
My mom insisted I visit during the winter season to get a reality check and prepare myself for the different climate.
Even then, I loved everything about the school.
It just felt like the perfect fit.
I was excited to commit to Oakland and felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
We celebrated with a small gathering of friends and family.
It was a special moment, no doubt.
In the middle of the 2022 fall season, during our last conference game, I suffered an ACL tear.
It was a moment that caught me off guard.
At first, I didn’t realize the severity of the injury. I thought I could walk it off and return to the game.
But the pain persisted, and I knew something was wrong.
After visiting the doctor, it was confirmed that I had torn my ACL. Denial hit me hard, and I was scared of what laid ahead – surgery and the challenging road to recovery.
The rehab process was undoubtedly tough, but I was fortunate to have a supportive team by my side. Being far from home made it difficult, but my teammates became my second family.
They filled the physical and emotional void I felt without being close to my immediate family.
Their constant support and encouragement were instrumental in my recovery journey. The coaches also played a significant role, checking in on me and ensuring I stayed on track.
Thanks to them, I never felt alone during that difficult time.
After months of rehab and hard work, I finally made my comeback. The first game back was nerve-wracking, but also exhilarating.
I scored twice, and the feeling of being back on the field was indescribable.
I knew I still had a long way to go, but this significant achievement gave me the motivation to keep pushing forward.
My rehab journey had its ups and downs, but I remained focused on each milestone and celebrated every small victory along the way.
I think the biggest lesson I learned through this challenge is to take it one step at a time.
At first, the end goal seemed daunting, but I learned if I worked consistently towards each little goal along the way, I’d eventually arrive at where I was supposed to.
These are values and lessons instilled in me by my mom, too.
When it comes to the biggest impact on my soccer career, she definitely takes the cake.
My mom played a pivotal role in supporting and guiding me through all the highs and lows. From driving me to games and tournaments to being there for me emotionally, she has been my rock.
It is her encouragement and belief in me that gives me the confidence to pursue my dreams.
I’m forever grateful for her love and support.
There is still a lot I want to accomplish academically and athletically here at Oakland.
We hold ourselves to a high standard in both pursuits, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.
When my time here at Oakland comes to a close, I look forward to returning home to Hawaii.
While I’m unsure about pursuing soccer beyond college, my main goal is to establish a life in Hawaii. It’s a unique place with its own challenges, but I want to be part of the community and make a difference.
The recent fires in Maui were a shock to all of us, and it reminded me of the importance of home. I want to be there, appreciating the beauty and living life to the fullest.
My journey in soccer has been filled with ups and downs, challenges, and triumphs.
From falling in love with the sport to dealing with a devastating ACL tear, I’ve learned the importance of resilience, support, and believing in myself.
My teammates, coaches, and especially my mom have played crucial roles, guiding me through the toughest times.
Now, as I look ahead to the future, I carry with me the lessons I’ve learned and the determination to make my mark on and off the soccer field.
I’m so thankful to be here at Oakland University and look forward to what we can accomplish in the years to come.