By John Philip Wyllie
Off to a 12-2 start, the Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lions are currently ranked seventh in the nation in NAIA women’s basketball. Former La Jolla High forward, Angela Manjarrez stars for the Sea Lions and has been a big part of their success this season. She is helping to provide the leadership they will need if they are going to be successful in their quest for a national championship. She is one of a limited number of Hispanic athletes excelling on the basketball court at the collegiate level.
“I am Mexican-American, but I come from a very Mexican family. My mom is from Nayarit and my dad is from Sinaloa. My mom immigrated when she was three or four and my dad came over when he was in his 20s. Spanish was my first language, but once I started going to school and speaking English, I completely forgot it. I am getting it back finally. It sounds a little funny sometimes, but for the most part people can understand me. We are a lot more involved in our culture than a lot of people around here and that is who I am. I am very proud of that.”
Manjarrez also has a right to be proud of all that she has accomplished on the court and in the classroom since enrolling at PLNU four years ago on an athletic scholarship.
“Angela has been a wonderful player to coach and she has improved every year,” according to Sea Lions skipper, Bill Westphal. “She started all last year and she is starting again for us this year. She’s been one of our most consistent players all year long. I am sure she is shooting well over 50%. She plays smart, doesn’t make mistakes and gets the tough rebounds. Angela is very popular with her teammates and she obviously cares about them. This four-year experience has been a growing one for her and she is well on her way to having a wonderful life,” Westphal added.
Ironically, collegiate basketball was the farthest thing from her mind when she was back in high school.
“I was a softball player from little league all the way through high school. I only played basketball in high school for two years. I started as a junior even though (prior to that) I had never picked up a basketball in my life. Then I ended up getting a basketball scholarship.”
She credits her parents and especially her sister for motivating her to do well in school. She knows that despite her athletic ability without a solid academic foundation she would have never made it in college.
“Doing well in college is a lot harder, but I have maintained a “B” average,” Manjarrez said. “I noticed that everybody was asking me about my grades and SAT scores when I was getting recruited. Having good grades makes getting in whole lot easier. You have to be able to maintain both worlds. If you can’t do that then maybe being a college athlete isn’t for you.”
“My parents obviously stressed (academics), but my sister Monica, who received a Masters Degree in education before she passed away two years ago, was always the biggest motivator. “You have to go to college,” she would always tell me. “I think grad school will be a little bit down the line for me, but Monica used to challenge me by saying, “I’ve got my Masters so now you have to get your Ph.D. Our parents have always wanted something better for their kids.”
Through her hard work on the court and in the classroom, Manjarrez and her siblings have achieved that “something.” Following her graduation this spring, she hopes to embark on a career as a probation officer. Her goal is to help others find the success that she now enjoys.