Athlete Spotlight: Makayla Willets


Photo by: Ainara Eizaguirre Irastorza

Nursing major and senior women’s soccer player Makayla Willets looks to capitalize on her upcoming last season while finishing school.

While saying goodbye to her fourth season as student athlete with a victory on her senior night, senior women’s soccer player and nursing student Makayla Willets closed the season with two Conference Carolinas defensive player of the week awards. 

Willets has earned several notable titles in her time at FMU with two MVP awards her sophomore and junior year.  

Transferring from Lees-McRae College as a sophomore, the keeper from Long Island, New York, is already planning to continue her career during her fifth year of eligibility next Fall.  

The Patriots’ women’s soccer team ended ninth in the conference this season with four wins, nine loses and three games tied, finishing just shy of getting into the conference tournament.  

Willets said she has a bittersweet taste with the result in the conference. 

“This past season did not go as planned,” Willets said. “Finishing ninth in the conference and falling just short of playoffs was a big wakeup call. In a way it was disappointing, our team is full of talent and to fall just short of playoffs was heartbreaking.” Despite the disappointment, the Lady Patriots are leaving the 2022 season behind and preparing for next Fall. 

Willets said they are currently identifying their goals and objectives in hopes for a successful season that can lead them to a spot in the conference tournament in 2023.  

With the previous coach leaving at the end of the season, the leadership role for Willets as a captain increased greatly to lead her team forward. Willets said she is focused on the upcoming season and that she trusts this team more than ever.   

“Next fall, I plan on returning taking my COVID redshirt year for my fifth and final year,” Willets said. “There is much more I can offer this program and my time is not up. With all the returning talent and the incoming of a new coach, I believe this team can strive for greatness and accomplish big things next fall.” 

Willets said she is determined to accomplish as much as possible for her fifth and final year in 2023.  

“I am not ready to leave this program just yet, I have more to prove as a player to myself, my team and the conference,” Willets said. “Things are looking up for next fall and I am excited to see what comes of it.” 

Willets transferred to FMU in the fall of 2020 for her sophomore year to enhance her academic success. As a nursing major, balancing school was a challenge, and adding soccer on top of it made it that much more difficult for Willets.  

Holding such a crucial role on the women’s soccer team while handling nursing school is no easy task, and one that Willets said she struggles with but works hard through it because of the love she has for soccer.  

“Balancing nursing school and playing soccer for FMU has for sure been a balancing act,” Willets said. “Nursing school may stress me out more than anything but having soccer to fall back on has been a huge help. Knowing that I have a family of 23 girls that fully support what I do on and off the field makes handling both that much more rewarding. My team is my family and without them I would not be able to make it through nursing school.”