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NJYS Spotlight: Taylor Machuga

Written by Mercedes Fraistat

Almost 16 years after first kicking a soccer ball, New Jersey native, Taylor Machuga, has kept soccer as a constant in her life. The NJYS player and soon to be college graduate, credits her time on the soccer field for helping shape her into the woman she is today.

At the age of five, Machuga's soccer journey began. She and her family moved to a new town with new possibilities. Her neighbor was a recreation soccer coach and after expressing to her mom the desire to play soccer, her mom signed her up to play on the neighbor's team. After that first practice, Machuga couldn't stop playing. She progressed from playing in her town's recreation league, to playing travel, on a club team and then to her high school's team.

"When I was younger, soccer gave me my first friends and taught me a lot of life lessons that most kids have to learn somewhere else. I learned how important teamwork is, sportsmanship, respecting others, and time management."

She said soccer gave her confidence, a sense of identification and helped her become comfortable with herself.

As she grew and advanced as a player, she had many coaches, but is most thankful for her U.S. Parma Tempesta travel coaches. Her coaches, Jimmy, Eli, and Bryan, taught her various skills on the pitch, improved her footwork and fitness, but also taught the entire team how to come together and how to love soccer.

"U.S. Parma Tempesta and the coaches provided me with my most fond memories, including a State Cup Championship where I scored the game winning goal from almost 40 yards out from the net."

Machuga thanks her coaches for giving her a best friend and for giving her the opportunity to grow as a player and play the game she loves. As a four-year varsity player at High Point Regional High School she was a two-time captain and led the Wildcats to win the Freedom Division her Junior Year.

Now, a senior at Penn State, Machuga is preparing to graduate in December with her bachelor's degree in marketing. To stay involved with soccer on the field she plays in pick-up games, a summer league, and practices whenever she can. Off the field, she's had internships that have helped her promote soccer from the business side of things. In 2017, Machuga was an Intern with Sky Blue FC, a National Women's Soccer League team and this past summer she worked at Madison Square Garden Networks as a Summer Associate.

"My love for playing soccer and pure passion for the game has completely molded my professional career," said Machuga.

When she stopped playing soccer, she felt as if she lost a piece of herself and became determined to find that piece again in her career. Now, as a Leadership Intern with Penn State Athletics Marketing, she said this position has helped her find that piece of herself again.

She loves the work she does at Penn State and is looking to take her passion for sports and turn it into a full-time job in the sports industry. She is grateful for the journey soccer created when she fell in love with the sport when she was five and is looking forward to where it will take her.