Female Athlete of the Year: Hanaki Rips Through the Rest


Salma Rojas, Staff Writer

   Senior Meilene “Mei” Hanaki, is captain and starting midfielder for the Varsity Girls Lacrosse Team, as well as playing a huge role in the Swim Team’s recent success. She spends most of her time dominating on the field. Covering an average of two thousand five hundred yards per lacrosse game, Hanaki is an absolute force on the field.

   Hanaki has been playing lacrosse for six years. She said, “I was selected for the All-American West Lacrosse team in 2019 and 2020. Tryouts consisted of players from

13 different states, and a panel of coaches selected 22 members to represent West Coast Lacrosse at the All American National Tournament in Maryland.” She has been on UC’s Varsity Team for all four years of her high school career. She dedicates six days a week to improving her fundamentals to prepare for games. Senior Co-captain Alyssa Parinas said, “Her presence positively impacts our team, and her drive to give every practice and game one hundred percent is why I look up to her as a player, and I have learned a lot from her.”

   Hanaki has positively impacted her fellow teammates by leading

by example. Senior

Co-captain Briana Gonzalez said, “She always tries to keep up the team synergy and helps guide others when needed on and off the field.” Hanaki said, “I strive to set a good example for sportsmanship and hard work, and I hope to inspire my teammates to discover their own love for the sport.”

      When swimming, she does doubles, two practices in one day that are necessary for highly competitive teams. Hanaki shared, “I usually swim 100s and 200s; my best stroke is probably butterfly. My main events during high school swim season are the one-hundred fly and one-hundred back.”

   Having lacrosse and swimming six days a week keeps her busy. Hanaki still seems to accomplish being at every practice and game, even when both sports overlap. Hanaki shared, “Being a student-athlete, balancing school, two sports, marching band in the fall, and family time is an extreme challenge. I work ahead in school work as much as possible and constantly communicate with my coaches and teachers.” She also said, “I have to compromise a lot with my schedule, leaving thirty minutes early from one practice and arriving thirty minutes late to another. However, I always put school before athletics, which has allowed me to maintain a high GPA of 4.68  over the years.”

   Tearing her ACL on the first day of the summer of junior year was utterly devastating for her recruiting season. However, without her rigorous athletic schedule for once, she was able to pursue other interests outside athletics. Hanaki said, “I also started an internship with Vala Sciences, a small biotech company here in San Diego. I started coaching on the side to stay involved with swimming and lacrosse.” Gonzalez said, “Not once have I seen Meilene let an injury affect her performance or positive mindset.”

    Hanaki said, “I work very hard to create opportunities for my teammates and peers to excel, because at the end of the day, I know what my abilities are, and I want to help others around me grow to reach their full potential.” She stated, “I strive to set a good example for sportsmanship and hard work, and I hope to inspire my teammates to discover their own love for the sport.”

   Hanaki will be attending John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in the fall of 2022. She will be majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering. We wish her the best.