By Jenelyn Russo     1/24/2016

Not unlike most Orange County kids, Lauren Markwith got her start in soccer as a five-year-old playing AYSO with her father as her coach. After watching her older sister play from the sidelines for what seemed like an eternity, Markwith finally got her chance.

“I always wanted to go play,” says Markwith. “I’d say, ‘Mom, when is it my turn?’ Then it was finally my turn, and I just loved it so much.”

ARVE Error: need id and provider

The Mater Dei High School senior plays center midfielder for the Monarchs, a position that allows the 18-year-old to be in the thick of all of the action.

“I enjoy playing [midfielder] because I’m in the middle of everything,” she says. “You get to attack; you get to defend.”

Markwith served as the team’s captain last season as a junior, the only junior to be named captain in Mater Dei girls soccer history. The leadership role was both an honor and a challenge.

“It was definitely tough because I was younger, so I had to earn the respect of the seniors who were already there,” says Markwith. “My style of leadership is just helping other people become the best soccer players they can be.”

The season was memorable for Markwith and her teammates, as the Monarchs finished as 2015 Division I CIF-SS Girls Soccer Champions, an accomplishment that ranks as her favorite moment in the sport. Mater Dei varsity girls soccer head coach, Matty West, is proud to have the opportunity to coach such a gifted athlete.

“Lauren’s contributions to the Mater Dei girls soccer program are immeasurable,” says West. “On the field, she is a hard worker and an unbelievable teammate. Just as important is her commitment to the program. Lauren has made numerous sacrifices to help her teammates and to help the program grow.”

As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Guatemala, Markwith has had the opportunity to play soccer for the Guatemalan U17 and U20 women’s national teams. Markwith’s time in Guatemala included founding an organization called Strike 4 Better Futures ( that raises funds and distributes donated soccer equipment to Guatemalan youth.

The Huntington Beach resident will be switching coasts after high school graduation, as she has committed to play soccer for the University of Miami, where she plans to study broadcast journalism.

With role models that include her grandmother who immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala, her mother who provides unwavering support and retired U.S. women’s soccer star Mia Hamm, Markwith leans on those who inspire her, her love for the game and her faith in God to guide her path.

“My faith as a student-athlete is really important to me,” says Markwith. “Praying to Him and knowing that I have Him by my side just got me through everything. God has been there for me, always.”