Macray Madruga of San Ramon FC
San Ramon FC congratulates youth player, Macray Madruga, who recently signed a letter of intent to attend University of California, Davis, as an inside (middle) linebacker and play Division 1 football after graduating from high school this spring. He will begin training with the Aggies football program in June of 2022. Macray attended California High School in San Ramon and has been a starting center back for the high school soccer team as well as a starting center back for the 03-04B NPL club team. Macray always dreamed of playing Division 1 soccer in college, but life is full of unexpected twists and turns.
Macray, along with big sister Brenna, joined San Ramon FC, formerly San Ramon Soccer, in the recreational program when he was age 5. With above-average height and grit, both Madruga siblings became center backs in the SRFC competitive program and never looked back. Six foot three “Big Mac,” as he is affectionately called by teammates, loves defending the goal and has done an outstanding job through the years. Madruga has been the defensive guardian in front of SRFC goalkeeper Nicky McCune for years defending and organizing their back line. Both Madruga and McCune were teammates on the same high school and club teams; a formidable defensive duo to be sure. (McCune is also a college commit, planning to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and play for the school’s Division 1 men’s soccer program.)
Mani Salimpour, Mac’s SRFC soccer coach and his Cal High coach too, was thrilled to hear that Macray’s center back athletic skills ultimately helped land him a “golden ticket” into UC Davis and their Division 1 football program.
When he was little, Macray told his parents, “I want to play every sport with every ball…” and he somehow magically was able to pull it off. Macray played CYO basketball in elementary school then added Raptor Lacrosse in middle school. In high school, Madruga went out for the freshman football team as a kicker. With his size and strong soccer leg, Mac could kick nearly the length of the field and earned the job of kick offs, PATs (point after touchdowns), and field goals.
To mix it up, Macray next tried out for the Cal High basketball team and became a starting power forward on the freshman team. Cal High lacrosse came next in the spring. Because football and lacrosse practices did not overlap with club soccer, Mac was able to go from one to the other while eating dinner in between. Lucky for him, club soccer pauses from December through mid-February, so Mac had no issue with schedule conflicts during the basketball season.
As a sophomore, Mac chose high school soccer over basketball and made the Cal High varsity team. He also earned a starting center back job as a sophomore. Through the years, he continued to play for the football and lacrosse teams too. To make athletics work with academics as well as lessen the stress during the school year, Macray took one or two college courses each summer to manage his school year load.
COVID’s Recruiting Challenge
With Covid emerging in the spring of his sophomore year and continuing through his junior year, Mac did not give up hope on playing college soccer. Despite the challenging recruiting process that emerged during the pandemic, Macray did all he could. College teams were recruiting fewer players due to the extra years of eligibility extended to existing college players. To further complicate matters, college coaches had limited availability getting to games to see players. Madruga attended showcases and camps, wrote emails, sent letters, made highlight videos, and even called coaches. He did “everything right” and had excellent traction going into his senior year, but then the college coaches “went dark” once their fall season started.
Like Brenna, who played for San Ramon FC 02G NPL and now plays center back for UC Santa Barbara, Macray was determined to find a way to play sports in college. Big Mac continued playing for Cal High's varsity football team. He played on both sides of the ball, and earned starting jobs as a tight end on offense and a middle linebacker on defense by his senior year. In the EBAL playoffs, Mac had a stand-out game at middle linebacker with two interceptions against Monte Vista High School, running one back for a 57-yard touchdown to help seal the Grizzlies win.
Football Coaches Recruiting At A Futbol Match
Unlike soccer, where collegiate programs primarily use email to recruit, college football recruiting is done nearly 100% through Twitter. A college football coach commented, “If you’re not on Twitter, you’re most likely not being seen.” Unbeknownst to his parents, with collegiate soccer programs having “gone dark”, Macray messaged many football programs via Twitter, including UC Davis. They never saw Mac play football in person, only on video, yet kept in contact and said they would drive out to watch him play a high school soccer game.
True to their word, UC Davis sent two defensive coaches to Macray’s EBAL high school soccer match vs. Dublin High last January. They only watched half the match. At halftime, they told Cal High coach Mani Salimpour, “We saw enough.” Mac’s pure athleticism, his ability to run backwards, his skill to change direction on a dime, take angles, and his absolute physicality compelled them to invite Madruga for an official visit to UC Davis the following week.
At the visit, UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins officially asked Mac to become an Aggie and be one of his inside linebackers. What Coach Hawkins and the other coaches loved about Mac is that he not only played multiple positions on the football field, but also was a multi-sport athlete and solid student. He had the academic foundation in place to be able to handle the rigors of a UC program while playing football. Moreover, the Davis coaches proudly shared that Macray was the first football player they ever recruited off of the “futbol” field!
High School Accomplishments
Macray was named a 1st Team All East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) Player THREE TIMES in his senior year: Football (middle linebacker), Soccer (center back) and Lacrosse (midfielder). All-League awards are voted on by opposing coaches in the league, and a coach cannot vote for their own player. Being selected for the 1st Team in three different sports in the competitive East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) is an enormous honor and accomplishment. According to the Cal High Athletic Director, no other athlete has done this, at least in the more recent history of the EBAL. The AD’s statement has not been confirmed, but it is safe to say such recognition in three sports is a rare and commendable achievement for any high school athlete.
Madruga Off The Field
In his spare time, Macray worked for US Cryotherapy in San Ramon, an SRFC club sponsor. After an injury his junior year, he asked the owner for a job “to help other athletes.” Mac believed cryotherapy helped him recover more quickly and wanted to help get others back on the field too. According to Macray, the best part of the work was the owner’s willingness to work around “my crazy sports and school schedule!” Mac also volunteered for The Crayon Initiative in Danville and is a founder of “MadFam Bakers” which specializes in custom sugar cookies.
In His Own Words
Macray credits Coach Salimpour and San Ramon FC for helping him reach the next level of his athletic career. He stated, “I realize that playing football, and not ‘futbol,’ was not in my original plan, but I’m grateful for this huge opportunity and couldn’t be more excited. I am immensely thankful to my high school coaches and Coach Mani for all they taught me. I hope to make SRFC proud!”
UC Davis is located about 11 miles south of downtown Sacramento and just over an hour north of San Ramon. Their football team plays in the Big Sky Conference and made it to the FCS Playoffs last fall for the second time under Coach Hawkins, an Aggie alum. It was their 21st postseason appearance for the program across all divisions of play. The club wishes Macray well with the opportunity to compete at the highest level of college athletics.