After a season of injuries, coaching staff changes and zero playing time, Dana Fujikuni was cut from the UC Davis women’s soccer team her freshman year.
“I had an 8 a.m. meeting where [the head coach] cut me,” Fujikuni said. “In the afternoon, around 4 o’clock, I committed to Long Beach not knowing anything about the school.”
The senior midfielder has come a long way since then, and now leads the women’s soccer team in goals and assists.
Fujikuni started playing soccer at the 6 years old, following in her sister’s footsteps. She dedicated her time to the Real So Cal club team, which won multiple first place titles during her time, including the Surf Cup and the ECNL National Championship. She found success on the field while attending Moorpark High School and earned the MVP, All-County, All-Area, All-League and Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Her most memorable moments occurred during the span of her collegiate career. She recounted the time she scored the winning goal against USC her sophomore year, pushing the 49ers past the ranked team 1-0. The second major moment took place during the same season, where the 49ers defeated UC Irvine 3-0 to earn the Big West championship title and secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.
But her soccer career wasn’t always filled with success, Fujikuni’s biggest obstacle in life came during her freshman year of college. She was recruited as a junior in high school by a UC Davis coach. An unexpected change in the coaching staff at the start of the season made for a slightly different experience than she had signed up for. She ended up redshirting after getting injured and did not accumulate any playing time on the field. That led to her being cut, and eventually to Long Beach State.
She became a 49er after her club coaches and former teammates contacted head coach Mauricio Ingrassia moments after she was told the bad news.
“From day one I knew we had a midfield piece that was going to be super important for us,” Ingrassia said.
Ever since she began playing soccer, Fujikuni has stuck to the midfield position. The roles she has played in her three years on the team have alternated from attacking to holding. This season she is one of the top scorers on the team with four goals and three assists, proving her worth as an attacker. She has contributed to many of the team’s victories by finding the net in key moments and placing the ball at her teammates’ feet when needed.
It is an emotional time for Fujikuni, who is more than halfway through her last year as a collegiate athlete.
“I play every game like it’s my last and I’ve got something to prove,” Fujikuni said. “It’s sad that it’s going to end soon.”
She hopes to end her senior season by leading the team in becoming Big West conference champions. After earning that title, the start of the NCAA tournament will be a challenge for the team as they have not made it further than the first round during Fujikuni’s time as a 49er.
After she completes her final season, she hopes to pursue a career in health administration and has a few quality assurance jobs lined up after she graduates in December. If it turns out that the medical path is not right for her, she plans to return to school to earn her teaching credential.
Excelling on the soccer field and in the medical field, Fujikuni is ready for whatever the future may hold.