By Laura Garcia
After an ankle injury forced her to take a year-long break, sophomore midfielder Makenna Roa continues her comeback, even shrugging off a possible MCL sprain in her left knee.
‘’I am stubborn when it comes to sitting out of injury,” Roa said.
Roa suited up for her freshman year in 2013. In February 2014, she underwent a successful reconstructive surgery to repair damaged ligaments in her ankle.
No one should be playing with a knee sprain, but love and passion keeps Roa on the pitch.
“Even if she’s hurting she might not tell you because that’s how much she wants to be out there,’’ said women’s soccer Head Coach Jaymie Baquero.
But there is more to Roa than just playing soccer. She is in her last semester as an anthropology major. With relatives who work in the police department, Roa has found it a natural career choice. She is graduating with a minor in criminal justice and wants to become a forensics investigator.
“Away from the soccer field I think that she is very humble, very laid back and responsible,” said men’s soccer Head Coach Jose Vasquez. “I know she works a lot apart from studying and playing soccer, so she’s really dedicated as far as her own private life.” Vasquez co-coached Roa her freshman year.
Roa is Mexican, German, Irish and Native American. She belongs to the Blackfoot tribe of Colorado.
Her mom works at the Santa Ana courthouse, and her dad works for the Los Angeles Metrolink. Roa has her own train pass. Her dad also worked for the LAUSD and would often take
her to Skid Row to show her different sides of life.
On the field Roa is serious, reserved and intimidating. Off the field she
is the polar opposite — open, approachable and lively.
“When she’s around she definitely has a presence to her. Both on the field, off the field,” Baquero said.
Her teammates also feel the same about her.
“She can brighten your day if you’re feeling down. She can always find a way to put a smile on your face and she is a very strong independent young lady,” defender Allyson Thoren said.
While recovering, Roa drew strength from her boyfriend, Dons football player Rodney Latham. The two met at a Santa Ana College party.
“He is a really good supporter because I didn’t play soccer last year due to my surgery and family issues, but he’ll go to my games when he can make it and then I’ll go to his games,” Roa said.
Both have playful and approachable personalities.
“I’m an African-American male so I have experience in this. Makenna has an attitude of a black woman. Her favorite word is ‘No,’ and she is so damn stubborn,” Latham said. “It takes forever for her to accept something from me. It’s nice to see her work hard for something as well so I know she’s independent but it’s like a blessing and a curse.”
Off the field, Roa says she loves going to Disneyland, where she is an annual pass holder.
“It’s so convenient being right there and I love going,” Roa said. “I have two pair of ears, one being giraffes.”
Roa has a routine of only wearing matching socks for soccer games. She hates her freckles and says she’s a really bad online shopper. She is also a foodie, considering her teammates and herself as among the unhealthiest athletes who eat anything from sushi to Oreos.
“Ally and I normally suggest going and eating,” Roa said. “After games we usually get tacos because our games are on Tuesday, so it’s Taco Tuesday. Fridays are sushi.”
Considering her injuries and the visible tattoo on her leg — which she got in honor of the only grandparent involved in her life, who died of cervical cancer — strong may be an understatement when describing Roa.
Getting back on the field regardless of her physical injuries shows her commitment, tenacity and love of the sport.
“Makenna is awesome, she works hard and she just proves herself,” teammate Kacee Thoren said.