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Gioia to play soccer for Culver-Stockton College

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

An injury limited the 2022-23 soccer season of Fallbrook High School senior Mikayla Gioia, but she still received an offer to play college soccer and accepted the opportunity to play for Culver‑Stockton College.

“It’s always been a big goal of mine,” Gioia said of playing college soccer. “I’m super excited. I’ve been playing soccer since I was five.”

Culver-Stockton College is in the northeast Missouri town of Canton. The population of Canton as of the 2020 census was 2,774 and approximately 1,000 students are enrolled at the college.

“I liked how small the school was and how close-knit the team was,” Gioia said. “You can really connect with your professors.”

That was the deciding factor for Gioia, who was also considering the University of Arkansas, Grand Canyon University in Arizona and the University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos. She plans to major in kinesiology at Culver-Stockton College with a focus on physical therapy and is contemplating a professional career as a physical therapist.

Culver-Stockton College is in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, which is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Wildcats were 4-8 in conference play last year and had an overall record of 6-11-1.

“I think she’s going to do amazing things,” said Fallbrook High School girls soccer coach Nico Guerra. “She works really hard, very talented.”

Gioia is a lifelong Fallbrook resident who attended Bonsall Elementary School and Sullivan Middle School. She joined the Sullivan Middle School cross country team as an eighth-grader. She attended Bonsall High School as a freshman and was on the Legionnaires’ cross country team in 2019.

Before she ran cross country, Gioia played soccer. She started her organized soccer career with the Fallbrook Villa club and was with that organization for five years before joining the LA Galaxy club in Carlsbad for four years. She concluded her club soccer career with the Vista Storm.

“I played basketball for a little bit,” Gioia said of her youth sports experience. “It wasn’t really my sport.”

Gioia transferred to Fallbrook High School as a sophomore and was on the Warriors’ 2020-21 and 2021-22 varsity soccer teams. “She did amazing,” Guerra said.

She was a team captain as a senior even though her injury kept her off the field. “She always supported her teammates,” Guerra said.

Gioia is the younger of two children. Her sister, Faith, ran cross country and track at Bonsall High School before graduating in 2019. Her mother, Julie, played high school basketball in Los Angeles county and her father, Anthony, was a high school baseball player.

In her junior and senior seasons, Fallbrook’s girls soccer team participated in the CIF playoffs, and that is Gioia’s favorite high school soccer memory. “That’s really exciting for us,” she said.

Her favorite overall high school memory is of the school dances. In addition to her sports activity, Gioia was on the Associated Student Body executive board.

“I hope to be back in Fallbrook when I’m older. I want my kids to be able to go to Fallbrook also,” Gioia said.


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