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Close to Home: Katerina Molina

Close to Home: Katerina Molina

by Kevin Ivany

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Born and raised in South Florida, Katerina Molina has always been surrounded by Miami fans, both in her household and her neighborhood.

However, before stepping foot on the University of Miami campus, the 5-foot-7 midfielder never even considered attending The U, let alone any school in the Sunshine State.

Now, just a month into her first collegiate season, Molina is excited for what the future holds at Miami.

Growing up just miles from campus, Molina and her four sibling s—an older sister, a younger brother and two younger half-sisters—have always been very close and have never shied away from competition.

Soccer, tennis, board games, you name it, the Molinas are always challenging one another to be the best they can be.

Following in their father’s footsteps, Molina joins her eldest sister at the NCAA Division I level, where Niki has played a pair of seasons with Villanova, earning 32 of a possible 33 starts.

Along with the special bond she shares with her siblings, Molina appreciates everything her parents have done for her over the years.

“My parents are my biggest support system,” Molina said. “They put just as much time and effort into helping me achieve my goals as I did. They always taught me to be thankful for everything in life: family, friends, opportunities, gifts, talents, etc.”

Molina first started playing soccer when she was four, as her parents set her up in a recreational program in which she competed alongside a few friends from school.

Around the same time, she picked up a tennis racket and played for a couple years, but ultimately decided to dedicate her time to only two things: the pitch and the classroom.

Even though she enjoyed every minute spent on the field, it was not until the end of her sophomore year of high school she knew she wanted to compete at the Division I level, when she made the switch to join Weston Academy.

“At the end of the day, Weston really helped me develop into the player I am today,” Molina said. “I would not be where I am without my club coach from Weston.”

Following her decision to attempt competing at the highest collegiate level, it did not take long for Molina to catch the attention of the schools she had set her eyes on.

Ultimately narrowing it down to Purdue and Miami, Molina explained how the campus and staff in Coral Gables helped solidify her commitment and convinced her to stay home.

“I chose UM because when I was walking around campus, talking to the coaches, the girls and the staff, I just knew it was where I was meant to be,” Molina said. “The campus is surreal. It is beautiful and nothing like any other campus in America. It perfectly captures Miami, but it still has a campus feel even though it is located in a big city, which is why I love it so much.”

Overall, Molina is following in her father’s footsteps, as Cesar Molina graduated with a master’s degree in architecture from UM.

“My dad grew up playing soccer his whole life. It is because of him that my older sister, younger brother, and I all started to play,” Molina said. “When it came to college, he too had the opportunity to play collegiately at Clemson University, but he decided to focus on his school work and attended the University of Miami.”

At Miami, Molina is excited to officially dawn an orange and green uniform for the first time, as well as hit the books with classes set to begin Monday.

“My goals heading into this first season are to just work as hard as I can and be the player I know I can be. That, in turn, will hopefully lead to minutes on the field,” Molina said. “I am hoping to bring a new young energy to the team and hopefully what I know and how I play is compatible with that of the team.”

Away from the pitch, Molina is set to begin a pre-law track and will major in psychology with a double-minor in philosophy and business.

Molina is not the only Miami native ready to make an impact for the Hurricanes in 2020, as freshman forward Mia Atrio also grew up just miles from the Coral Gables’ campus.

The duo first met when they were eight in their inaugural travel soccer campaign. Prior to Molina making the move to Weston, the duo have sported the same uniforms for eight years.

“I am just really excited to be able to play, what could possibly be my last four years of competitive soccer, with someone who I started out with,” Molina said. “It is a really cool thing and I feel it doesn’t happen to people very often. So, I find it pretty amazing.

“As a player, I always enjoyed playing with Mia because she plays a very similar style and we have always been known to play well together and complement one another on the field,” Molina added. “As a person/friend she is so much fun to have around and she can make anyone laugh.”