Melanie Barcenas: Grassroots to Glory

‘They’re my biggest inspirations’ – 15-year-old NWSL prodigy Melanie Barcenas finds motivation and determination through family in pro soccer journey

At 15 years old, Melanie Barcenas became the youngest player ever to debut in an NWSL regular-season match when she debuted for her hometown side, San Diego Wave, on April 29, 2023.

Speaking to GOAL in an episode of Grassroots to Glory, Barcenas explained that her meteoric rise to the top wouldn’t have been possible without her family; specifically, her brother and father.

It began with a trip to the store where she saw her brother pick out some soccer equipment as kids and, from there, her journey began.

“I always wanted to be kind of like him, we just always did the same thing so then I also wanted that,” Barcenas told GOAL. "So then we kind of just started off from there and then we just started training together ever since we were young.

“My dad has always worked hard and that's like the one thing he's installed in me since a young age… his family doesn't come from much, so just like always working hard no matter what I'm doing and then my brother has brought that competitive [side] in me, so I think they're my biggest inspirations.

Barcenas, a San Diego native, made her debut alongside U.S. Soccer superstar Alex Morgan and has since been on a rising journey to the top. Representing her community, her family and the women’s game locally has been a dream come true.

“It was an amazing feeling just to be able to represent your hometown… I mean it’s not very often that an NWSL team comes to your [home] town, and it's [the league] continuing to expand. I'm just super grateful to be here.

“I'm proud because I think I've made a lot of sacrifices but I know this is just one step into my career, I'm excited to see what I can hopefully accomplish one day.”

Checkout the full episode of Grassroots to Glory on the official Indivisa Youtube channel.