Mejia makes final season at CPP his best one yet

By Erica White

Juan Mejia knows the meaning of hard work.

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s soccer star was recently recognized
for his discipline on the field as a NCAA Division II All-West
Region honoree for the 2011 season. The award that is voted upon by
the region’s sports information directors.

“He made first team all-conference, and made second team
all-region,” Head Coach Lance Thompson said. “You don’t just get
those awards, they are not given to you. You earn them.”

When talking to Thompson, the pride he feels toward Mejia is
evident. He laments that he only had Mejia for two years. The
senior midfielder transferred to CPP from Cerritos College two
years ago.

“I hope it doesn’t take me another 12 years to find the next
Juan Mejia,” Thompson said.

Mejia attributes his hard work and dedication to his parents. He
said they both are hardworking people.

“They are my motivation,” Mejia said.

Mejia and his older sister are first generation college
students. He was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, but currently resides
in Lynwood. Mejia is an AB-540 student and receives no financial
aid which he calls his “toughest challenge.”

To support himself, he plays bass guitar in a band which he
tours with between school, soccer games and practice. But despite
his hardships, Mejia remains lighthearted and humble. He keeps his
focus by remaining disciplined.

“I try to stay disciplined,” Mejia said. “No matter what, I try
to jog or workout at home every day. I’m the type of person that if
I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I like to work
hard. I work hard.”

And Thompson agrees calling Mejia one of the hardest working
players he’s coached in his 12 years of collegiate soccer.

Thompson said that Mejia has grown enormously in his two years
playing at CPP, and that he was the engine for the team this year
that helped to propel the team forward.

Mejia has been both player and cheerleader for the team over the
years. Teammate Luis Gonzalez played with Mejia for four years. The
two played at Cerritos together before transferring to CPP before
their junior seasons. In their final season, Mejia and Gonzalez
controlled a majority of the Bronco’s offense.

Gonzalez said he refers to Mejia as a brother.

“He’s probably one of the funniest guys on the team,” Gonzales
said. “He’s the clown on the bus that makes the road trips seem a
little shorter.”

Gonzales said Mejia puts his heart into every game, and that he
has loved playing with Mejia during his college career.

“He knows the game very well,” Gonzalez said. “He controls the
whole game and his passes are great. Whenever he had the ball we
knew we were going to keep it. He knew what to do every time he got
the ball.”

Gonzales said that was the season was the best he had seen Mejia
play.

Thompson concurred and said the Mejia is always encouraging the
team.

“He picks up the team during halftime when things weren’t going
so well,” Thompson said. “Or if they were going well making sure
everyone wasn’t overly comfortable and over confident keeping in
mind we still have 45 minutes to play.”

Thompson said Mejia also pays advice forward. Thompson recently
overheard Mejia speaking to potential student athletes and said he
almost had to “sit down” for a minute when he heard him reiterating
the things he’s been passing down to the players.

“As a coach that’s all you can hope for,” Thompson said. “It’s
exciting to see him mature and progress academically and really
pursue his degree. He will surely be missed.”

Juna Mejia

Alfonso Villegas / The Poly Post

Juna Mejia

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