Cayla Payne wants to be on television one day.
The redshirt-junior on the UTEP soccer team hopes to parlay her multimedia journalism degree into a career interviewing the highest-profile figures in sports.
But before she takes her affable demeanor in front of the camera, Payne expects to deliver another year of tenacity on the pitch for the Miners, who enter the 2019 season with renewed zeal under new coach Kathryn Balogun. Payne expresses gratitude to the Miner Athletic Club for the opportunity to pursue both endeavors.
“Receiving a scholarship has impacted me a lot,” Payne said. “It has changed my standpoint in life because a lot of people don’t receive these opportunities. Being able to receive this is a blessing. I’m able to further my sport but also my career and what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
In 2019, Payne hopes to build on a strong 2018 campaign in which she made 14 starts, registered two assists and scored one goal from her outside defender position. The Mansfield, Texas, native began playing soccer at age 3. Playing collegiately was a long-standing dream that she said was aided by her parents and teammates from Lake Ridge High School. Payne recognizes the importance of wearing the Orange and Blue, and she knows there are eyes on her.
“To represent the Miners is amazing,” Payne said. “You have so many people looking up to you, especially younger players. Whenever they come up to you and say, ‘You’re my favorite,’ or ‘Oh, my goodness, you did so amazing,’ it makes me so happy because I impacted someone so much younger than me and moved them into what they want to do.”
Balogun said Payne is the epitome of a selfless teammate who consistently works to her capability and goes beyond what is asked of her for the benefit of the team. The first-year coach said Payne also represents the value of sports for talented young people who are actively engaged in academic pursuits.
“Sports provide abundant opportunities for people,” Balogun said. “Competing enhances our student-athletes by bolstering their character, instilling discipline and teaching the value of sacrifice. Cayla exudes all of these qualities. She is a diligent worker, a highly regarded teammate and a unifying force on and off the field. She is making the most of her opportunity to play Division I soccer.”
And while Payne has given UTEP a model student-athlete, she said she also has received something in return from the University.
“My favorite memory from UTEP are my friends,” she said. “I’ve made so many friends here. I’ve made so many memories that I won’t ever forget.”
Payne hopes to create more notable moments this year. The 2019 season kicks off Aug. 22 at University Field against the University of Wyoming.
Author: Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications
Creating Champions: This is the second article in a series about UTEP student-athletes who share their unique stories and how athletic scholarships have made a difference in their lives. Each of these students reflects on the value of their UTEP experiences and the opportunities they create for the future. Visit minerathleticclub.com to learn more about the Creating Champions campaign.