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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine


Sophomore goalkeeper Emma “Bubba” Makela, a Mukilteo, Wash., native, has been guarding the net since she was 5 years old

On team loyalties: Growing up in a town about 25 miles north of Seattle, Makela has been a longtime Seahawks fan. And now in San Antonio, she has adopted the Spurs to her fan roster as well. Too bad that when each won its big game, Makela missed the celebrations. “I was so upset when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and I missed all that back home. And then when the Spurs won the championship I was in Washington. I was like, ‘Oh, man, I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time.’”

On goalkeeping: “I’ve been playing since I was so young, it’s just what I know. Goalkeeping has become second nature. I don’t have to overthink things in goal.”

On Alamo City versus Seattle: Makela lists living by a large body of water, clouds and rain plus the cooler weather as a few of the things she misses from back home. “It’s kind of a struggle coming in [to the season] because summers in Washington are, like, 75 degrees, and then I come here and die in the heat. Last year I came just in time for preseason, but this time I came on Aug. 1 to try and get acclimated.” But, she adds, Tex-Mex food and Fiesta are highlights of living in S.A.

On her nickname: Makela has her father to thank for the moniker “Bubba,” which has followed her throughout her soccer career. He had given her the “big boy” nickname when she first started playing at the age of 5. As her reputation and prominence rose, the nickname went with her. “When I was passing out résumés I had to put Emma and in quotes put Bubba because so many people knew me by that name.”

On women in sports: Makela says female athletes have to work harder for recognition in an athletic landscape dominated by men, including the amount of money spent in terms of scholarships.

On playing through pain: Without realizing it, Makela had been playing three sports with a broken back as a teenager. “It hurt but I just kept playing, and one time at soccer practice I fell down and couldn’t get back up. It was apparently broken for a good two months.” After that, she says, her mother made her choose: basketball, volleyball or soccer. The choice was clear: “I couldn’t imagine my life without soccer.”

On plans after UTSA: Makela is an education major and thought she wanted to be a teacher like her mom. But now, she’s looking closer at becoming a pilot, thanks to her father, who is employed by Boeing.

–Michelle Mondo


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