by Danny Eckardt
Athletically skilled, intelligent, confident, caring and devoted are all understatements of La Verne’s soccer star, junior Angel Mejico, who simply seems to be a page right out of the book of “What it takes to be a role model.”
“She is a role model for us out there, and she shows us great leadership,” said freshman soccer co-captain Katie Zwissler.
“She is really honest and you can tell her anything, because she doesn’t judge you,” said junior Alicia Raygoza.
Mejico, a native of Fontana and offensive mid-fielder for the Leopards women’s soccer team, has been an athlete ever since she could walk, but has learned that being a student-athlete entails a lot of responsibility.
Mejico, whose motto is “to have fun,” has developed an uncanny ability to dribble the soccer ball down field, juke opposing players and score.
“She takes her playing style seriously, but never gets mad or frustrated,” said Raygoza.
“Angel is always double-teamed or triple-teamed and manages to get the job done,” said head coach Wendy Zwissler. “If a team is only going one-on-one with her, she schools them.”
Although she is only able to attend two practices a week, because of her pursuit for a degree in biology, Mejico accounts for 37 percent of La Verne’s offense.
“She is very mature, has good composure, is really quiet, and is very hard on herself,” said coach Zwissler. “When she is at practice she works really hard.”
Mejico, a graduate of St. Lucy’s High School in Glendora, decided to enroll at La Verne even though many schools like UCLA and Pepperdine were recruiting her for her athletic talents.
Mejico decided that La Verne was the school she wanted to attend because it was close to her family, who live in Ontario, and because she fell in love with the women’s soccer program.
“It was ironic, because a lot of schools were recruiting me,” said Mejico.
At St. Lucy’s, Mejico earned many accolades as a soccer player while maintaining a 3.6 grade-point average. Her honors include Rookie of the Year her freshman year; All-League all four years; All-California Interscholastic Federation from her sophomore to senior years; team Most Valuable Player award for both her junior and senior years; and she was the leading scorer on her team all four years.
From her high school teammates, Mejico expressed learning “maturity, composure, and leadership.”
While at La Verne, she intends to break her 19-goal record for a season, win the SCIAC championship, make the playoffs and beat Cal Lutheran, a bitter rival the Leopards have never beaten in their history.
“I expect her to break her personal record of 19 goals, and lead the team to their first SCIAC championship,” said coach Zwissler.
“Her shooting ability, toughness and aggressiveness brings our team to a different level,” said freshman Tanis Smith.
In her pre-collegiate years, Mejico earned many awards playing other sports, which included basketball, track and volleyball with various clubs, schools and state representative teams.
Mejico’s inspiration originates from her mother, who is her “biggest role model and person she turns to.”
“I can go to her and talk to her like a friend and a mom,” said Mejico. “She keeps me going.”
For fun, Mejico hangs out with her friends, family (three brothers and one sister, who are “very athletic, funny, and close”), snowboards and wakeboards. Mejico also volunteers her time and efforts to the Ontario Parks and Recreation organization and coaches a basketball team.
Superstition might as well be Mejico’s middle name, because she ritualizes in keeping true to them. She is so superstitious, that she has her teammates wear red strips of tape around their ankles, because it is her “power-color” and helps her play better- and the team plays better.
Mejico’s superstition goes as far as wearing the same clothes that she wore the day the team wins a game, on a different game day.
“She is always kick-back and wanting to have fun,” said freshman goalie Amy Perkins.
It is unknown if Mejico’s superstitions are working for her or not, but what is known, is that her character, class and skill has brought La Verne to a higher competitive level.