After several stints away from California that included playing abroad in Denmark, Makenzy Doniak is finally back home again. The Chino Hills native came to San Diego via a trade with the Chicago Red Stars. She was traded to the Wave FC along with Kelsey Turnbow, and Katie Johnson, in exchange for roster protection, and allocation money.
Doniak is an experienced forward who has scored for five different teams and she scored her first goal for San Diego on June 19th against Gotham FC.
Doniak and the rest of the Wave FC will be in action again against the Washington Spirit this Sunday. Kickoff time will be at 2 PM PDT and you’ll be able to watch the game on Twitch (internationally) and domestically on Paramount+.
Recently, LAG Confidential had the honor of speaking to the forward as she was preparing for this weekend’s match. Here’s what she had to say about playing for the Wave, her playing style, and what it’s like to finally return home to Southern California.
LAGC: You scored your first goal the last time the Wave played. What was that experience like?
MD: It was awesome. It’s always a great feeling to kind of have a tangible thing to say that you accomplished that in all your hard work. So it’s nice to be able to score for my team and just give us that extra goal at the end. It felt really good.
LAGC: How are you and the rest of the Wave players going to step up in the absence of the internationals that are away on international duty right now?
MD: I think that this is a great opportunity for a lot of players to step up and I think we’ve just been working so hard every day, whether those players are here or not. Obviously, they add to the level and intensity [of our game] but we are really working on trying to keep that [intensity] up, and I think that I’m excited to see other players step up and score and give us other threats up top. I think that we have done a good job in training and just really bringing intensity and competitiveness. So when the game comes, we’ll all be ready.
LAGC: So you’ll be ready in time for the Washington Spirit?
MD: Oh yeah, we’ll be ready.
LAGC: You’re from Chino Hills (in San Bernardino County, CA) and I was just wondering, what’s it like to be back in Southern California, and do you feel that being close to home has improved your game somewhat?
MD: I think it’s really awesome to be back home and play. It’s kind of a full circle moment because we train at the Del Mar Polo Fields and it’s just awesome to be back here and be able to have friends and family come to a game. I think the mental side of the game is so important, so being closer to home kind of gives me that little bit of balance in my life off the field and so I’m able to perform on the field, but as a professional, you have to be able to play anywhere.
I think that just being home has been kind of a really cool full-circle moment for me, but I’m really pleased with all the fans’ support we’ve gotten. It’s been awesome and my family and friends are able to come more to the games, which is great. So it’s a very cool part of my career that I’m in right now, so I’m excited.
LAGC: How are you finding the city of San Diego? Do you like living there?
MD: Yeah, I love it here, truly. There are not a lot of places, in my opinion, that are better to live in. I think when teams come and play us, they see a little bit of what we get to see day in and day out, and it’s awesome. Our facility is great* and we’re building a new stadium [the Snapdragon], which is great. I think our last two home games will be in Snapdragon and then moving forward, we’ll be playing there. So, yeah, it’s really cool city to live in.
LAGC: You’ve played at other teams before, most notably the Chicago Red Stars and the Utah Royals. There was a bit of turmoil when you were at Chicago due to what happened with former coach Rory Dames. So I’m wondering, are you finding the environment in San Diego a much better place to be in?
MD: I would say that this organization [San Diego Wave FC] has really put an emphasis on players’ health, mentally and physically, and so I am very comfortable here. I think most every player is comfortable here and they just support us in every way and they really put an emphasis on our health and our mental well-being. I think that has shown a lot and being a professional athlete is very hard in so many aspects, and I think that they support us in every way we need and they make that known to us. And so I think that’s definitely been a big difference in this team than [the ones I had experienced] in previous years.
LAGC: Speaking of Chino Hills and San Diego, it has recently been confirmed that there is a group trying to bring the NWSL to the Bay Area in 2024. What do you think of California getting a third NWSL team?
MD: Personally, I think the more the merrier. The Bay Area is more up north and California’s a very big state, so I think we could welcome that for sure, and they could get a new fan base up there. I think California is such a big place for soccer and development in the youth and so I think to have more NWSL teams here would be great for young kids to look up to and kind of aspire to play professionally one day.
LAGC: How are you finding life under coach Casey Stoney? Is she a great coach?
MD: I love Casey as a coach and as a person. She’s really brought the group together and made us feel comfortable, but still has that element of competitiveness and I think she’s led the group really well. I think that’s shown by us being at the top [of the NWSL standings] right now. I think she has a lot to do with that. So, I love playing for her. I’m excited to keep playing for her and just keep learning under her.
LAGC: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game, and what do you think you can improve upon?
MD: I think that one of my strengths is just that hunger around goal and in the box. I think that when I’m close to goal, my number one thought is putting the ball into the back of the net. So, how am I going to do that? And then there are so many things I think I can work on. I think that as I get older, I think about relying on my athleticism, and you have to be smarter than that.
So working smarter, not harder sometimes, and just being very mindful of how I’m recovering and all that, so that when I step on the field, I’m ready and working on those things that I can after practice or whatnot like my first touch, taking the defenders on, and just staying sharp, but also [focusing on] recovery so I can keep doing that week in and week out.
LAGC: Going back to San Diego, if you know anything about the city’s history, then you know that, unfortunately, we’ve never won a major title. As a city, we keep hoping that the Padres will bring us a World Series every single year, but it never happens (sadly). Do you think that there’s a chance that the Wave could break that mold and be the first team that brings a championship to the city? And how great would it be for you to be a part of that?
MD: Yes, I think we have the potential to go all the way, for sure. I think, when you’re in such a long season as we are [the current NWSL season], it’s important not to put all the emphasis on getting to the championship game because I think there’s such progress that can be made within the season.
But with that being the end goal in mind, for sure, I think we have all the potential to do that. The onus is just on us to keep working hard every game and improving so that we can get there. I also think to be able to do that would be amazing. All of us would be so happy and proud to do that for San Diego and as a new team, and that would be great.
*Author’s note: It has recently been confirmed that the Wave FC currently have a clubhouse that is being built for them. So, in addition to the stadium that is being built for them, they’ll also have their own facilities.
We thank Makenzy for taking the time out to speak to us and wish her and the rest of the Wave FC the best of luck this Sunday.
So what do you think? Leave a comment below.