ON MAY 28, 2009, Alex Mejia and his parents were sound asleep in their home in Tela, a town on the northern coast of Honduras. At 3:24 a.m., they were jolted awake by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake — the strongest felt in Honduras in 30 years.
The earthquake happened more than a dozen years ago for Mejia, but talking about it makes it seem as if it was just yesterday.
“The small town where we were living is right on the beach — a couple hundred feet [away],” Mejia recalled. “The threat of a tsunami was definitely real.
“The power was out; everything was out. We could hear the neighbors’ cars; the whole city basically got into their cars and drove up to the mountains just in case of a possible tsunami.”
Despite a series of aftershocks that followed for the next 30 hours, Mejia and his parents decided to stay put rather than head for higher ground. “Luckily, nothing major happened [after the earthquakes],” Mejia said. No tsunami materialized.
Even from the toughest, sometimes harrowing moments, life moves forward. Quite literally for Mejia, who grew up and enrolled at Seattle Pacific, eventually taking a spot on the front line as a forward for men’s soccer. As a senior in 2021, Mejia scored 14 goals. No one else in the conference had more than 11, so it was no surprise that Mejia was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year. “It’s the preparation. I really worked hard to improve,” Mejia said. “I’m lucky to have good teammates.”
When everything shut down with the coronavirus pandemic, it was up to Mejia and his teammates to work out however they could.
“It was a setback in some ways, but it was an opportunity in other ways,” he said. “At the start of COVID-19, I realized that depending on how long everything was shut down and if people weren’t training or working hard, I could definitely get ahead.
“That’s what I tried to do. Every day, get a little bit better and stay focused.”
Mejia, who helped lead SPU to the conference championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, earned two All-American awards, along with his conference Player of the Year honor.
In the classroom, he’s majoring in finance and economics. But before he puts those degrees to work, he wants to see how far he can take his game.
“I’ll see if there’s any interest from MLS (Major League Soccer),” said Mejia, who previously played with the Sounders Academy. “Obviously, I’d want to play here. But every soccer player dreams of playing in Europe.”