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NJ’s Teruel to play soccer while learning to be a chef at Johnson & Wales

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KENLY — North Johnston graduate Maira Teruel faced a dilemma her senior year. She wanted to be a chef, but she also didn’t want to stop playing soccer. 

“It was really hard to find a college or university here in North Carolina that had both culinary arts and a soccer program,” Teruel said. 

Teruel’s fortunes changed when she went for a clinic at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.

“We were having an ID clinic in the fall and she reached out and expressed interest in our school as a really good fit for her academically,” Johnson & Wales head coach Matt Hisler said. “When she came out to train I got to change the variables and she adapted so quickly. Her speed of play jumped up exponentially in about 30 minutes with different demands and things being asked of her. Anyone who can adapt that fast with a smile on her face is someone we want.”

Teruel signed to play for Hisler and the Lady Wildcats in May. She wanted to go to the school already, because of its career exploration program helping her decide she wanted to be a chef. Teruel said she struggled through many different career path options before she stumbled onto culinary arts.

“I tried so many different things like technology and science, pretty much the STEM system, but it really didn’t interest me that much,” Teruel said. “I got a letter from Johnson & Wales over the summer about career exploration, and there was a program on behalf of culinary arts down in Miami. I went down there over the summer, it was a week-long program, and I got a little taste of the culinary world, since then I wanted to be in that major and study for it.”

Teruel earned All-Eastern Plains Conference and North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association 2-A All-Region 3 acclaim this season. The daughter of Hada Palma and Glenys Teruel, she earned a $60,000 scholarship throughout her four years.

JWU Charlotte currently is a member of the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association, a national organization of smaller institutions, but there is a plan for it to move into NCAA Division III. It is one of four campuses in the JWU system, along with Providence, Rhode Island; North Miami, Florida; and Denver.

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