Author: Ryan Whalen
Occidental women’s soccer team captain Michaela Tsuha (senior) is a rock. For the past three years, she has provided consistency and playmaking capabilities, starting in every game of her college career at the right midfielder position.
Despite a family tradition of basketball, Tsuha took up soccer in kindergarten and joined more competitive club teams in the second grade.
“I had horrible hand-eye coordination when I was a kid, so I was not very good at a lot of different sports, but when it came to soccer I actually was not that bad,” Tsuha said. “It was essentially process of elimination that led to soccer, but I love the sport and am really glad I followed through the game.”
Although Tsuha’s coordination may have swayed which sport she decided to play, her dedication and work ethic quickly established her as a capable player in her hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I played against her for the first time in high school,” defender Kelsey Hung (senior) said. “She played outside [midfield] on the side that I defended, so I always defended her. Every time we played, I just remember thinking ‘Dang, I am going to have to mark that girl again.'”
A four-year starter at Punahou High School in Honolulu, Tsuha led her team to three state titles before the speedy midfielder made the jump to the collegiate level. However, despite her talent on the field, it was academics that led her to Occidental.
Tsuha is currently pursuing a biology major and works in biology professor Joseph Schulz’s research lab, which specializes in the venom of cone snails. She intends to apply to medical school after taking a year or two off to take part in a medical mission trip. Eventually, Tsuha hopes to end up somewhere in pediatric medicine, using her knowledge to help kids.
However, Tsuha’s exemplary organization and focus in soccer and in schoolwork comes at a certain expense.
“She is one of the most organized people I know when it comes to school, like she has folders and notebooks neatly divided out for each class, but when it comes to her room, it is an absolute mess,” midfielder Kylie Takafuji (junior) said. “When I first met her, I was intimidated, but then I got to know her and she was a sweetheart, but then I got to know her better and found out how sarcastic she can be.”
During the spring semester of her junior year, Tsuha took her sense of humor and her studies to Europe, studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Despite the travel, Tsuha made sure not to neglect her dedication to soccer, joining a Danish club team during her European stay.
“Everyone there was very tall and big, so it was a very physical play style, and we played in all different types of weather, including snow and hail,” Tsuha said. “I had to wear three layers of clothes. It was a bit tough, but definitely worth it.”
Back from her travels and now entering her senior season, Tsuha was recognized by her team as a leader and selected as a team captain. The selection expanded the role of the incumbent midfielder, pushing her to make an impact on her teammates both on and off the field.
“As a captain, she is very encouraging and leads by example on the field, as she is always out on the field working her butt off,” forward Julie Khil (junior) said.
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