The sport of soccer has taken Mackenzie Dawes to scores of different locations and now, it’s going to take her to college.
Dawes, a senior at San Marino High School, recently announced that she will continue playing the sport she dearly loves when she enrolls at at Connecticut College and play for the Camels this fall. A Titan team MVP and all-Rio Hondo League first-team forward, Dawes said that although the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the recruiting process, she is comfortable with her decision.
“Coaches weren’t permitted to watch players in person, which really made things difficult,” she said. “I spent hours finding clips of film that I could use and I turned them into a highlight video. I sent the video and other information out to the colleges I was interested in with the hopes that their roster wasn’t full yet and that I could fill a position. When I came across Connecticut College, I knew almost immediately that it was the right fit for me. I got in touch with the coach and the rest is pretty much history. The more I learned about the college and soccer program, the more it felt like my home away from home. I think that a lot of people try to rush the process or simply settle for something that might not be the right fit. However, my experience was so easy and natural that I couldn’t have asked for a better college process.”
Dawes began playing soccer at age 4 when her parents registered her for AYSO but by the time she was in the fourth grade, the club level was calling. Dawes joined Crown City United at age 10 and “fell in love with the level of competition.”
“Not only did soccer become my own escape, but it allowed me to form some lifelong friendships with my teammates and coaches,” Dawes said, acknowledging former skippers Rob Gallo, Jaime Acuña and James Mitrof. Upon entering San Marino High School, Dawes transferred to L. A. Premier DPL — developmental player league — where she played for coach Kamran Rahim. This past season, Dawes advanced to L. A. Surf Girls Academy and coach Mike Davis.
“I have been fortunate enough to travel to Arizona, Nevada and Texas for games and showcases for college exposure,” said Dawes.
Her high school career has been equally outstanding. As a freshman, Dawes started on the varsity squad.
“I was challenged to push myself harder than ever,” she recalled. “At the time, I was playing as a center defender along with upperclassmen who were so supportive and welcoming.”
Dawes tallied four goals that year and received all-Rio Hondo League second-team honors. As a sophomore, she switched to forward and responded with 15 goals and earned all-league first-team status. As a junior, she was named co-captain along with 2020 graduate Emerson Pedroza. Along with that role, Acuña — who is also her high school coach — laid down a challenge.
“Coach Jaime encouraged me to take on this leadership position and I had the most amazing time forming close bonds and motivating my teammates to put forth their best efforts,” Dawes said. She responded with 14 goals and received the Lady Titans’ team MVP award and, once again, a spot on the all-Rio Hondo League first team.
Soccer also helped her see the world. In 2019, her SoCal Select team visited Europe and squared off against club teams in France, Croatia and Switzerland.
“My team played in the Paris World Games, where we won first place and celebrated under the Eiffel Tower,” Dawes said. “I will never forget this unbelievable experience and I hope to travel and play around the world again.”
Dawes was a multiple-sport athlete at SMHS, also participating in volleyball and track and field, running the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and the 4×100-meter relay.
“Playing sports aside from soccer is so important to me because I learned and used different skills that, overall, make me a better athlete,” said Dawes.
Mackenzie is the daughter of Deborah and Jason Dawes and has two brothers: Mason, 20, a former Titan football player, and Turner, 13.
“San Marino High School soccer will always hold a special place in my heart and I will be forever grateful for coach Jaime’s continued support and guidance,” said Dawes, who is considering sports psychology as a major at Connecticut College. “I am beyond excited to play soccer at the next level and to create more amazing memories in this new chapter of my life.”