From TV screens to Division 1 dreams: Mwinso Denkabe commits to Wake Forest University


Courtesy Mwinso Denkabe

Senior Mwinso Denkabe plays on his Silicon Valley Soccer Academy (SVSA) team. In March, after his recruitment process was put on hold due to the pandemic, Mwinso committed to the nationally ranked Wake Forest University mens soccer team.

As a 5-year-old, current senior Mwinso Denkabe was like a lot of kids: fascinated by TV shows like “Blues Clues,” “Fresh Beat Band” and “The Backyardigans.” In an effort to get Mwinso outside and active, his mother enrolled him in a local soccer program, Coach Ken Soccer. Little did the Denkabe family know that 13 years later, Mwinso would be preparing to play Division 1 soccer at Wake Forest University — one of the best teams in the nation. 

Mwinso fell in love with the sport almost immediately; before he turned 10, he knew he wanted to play collegiate or professional soccer. He moved from team to team as he began to take his soccer career more seriously, playing for Mountain View–Los Altos Soccer Club, Red Star Soccer Academy and Silicon Valley Soccer Academy (SVSA). 

“I’m a very competitive person, so that played a big role in wanting to excel in soccer,” Mwinso said. “My favorite part about the sport itself is just dribbling. Running with the ball and going at other players is something I really fell in love with.”

In 2019, Yale University was the first school to contact Mwinso, after seeing him play in the first leg of the DA Cup, for which Mwinso’s SVSA team had qualified. Although this tournament was never completed due to COVID-19, this first showcase in Florida gave universities including Yale, University of Washington, University of Portland, Duke and multiple University of California schools a chance to come to watch one of the games against Inter Miami. Throughout the rest of that year’s season, Mwinso continued to reach out to universities himself and heard back from more programs. 

In 2020, the recruitment process was unexpectedly halted for several months as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on yet another aspect of student life. With the lack of games and overall exposure, Mwinso went months without getting responses about recruitment. 

After watching one of Mwinso’s games against Toronto FC from the same Florida tournament later that year, Wake Forest Assistant Soccer Coach Dane Brenner reached out to the Los Altos High School athlete in early February this year. Although Mwinso was also in contact with the University of California, Los Angeles, and UC Berkeley teams, Mwinso verbally committed to Wake Forest after a month of communication with Head Coach Bobby Muuss. He then officially signed with Wake Forest on Thursday, March 25.

“I was having a lot of conversations with the coach and it feels like family whether the team is together or apart,” Mwinso said. “That community is very important to them.”

Mwinso also chose Wake Forest for the way they play and their ability to highlight his game. Because Wake Forest is ranked in the top five of the Division 1 Men’s Soccer league, Mwinso knows that the team will help him improve at the sport. 

This level of accomplishment didn’t come easily, of course. It took years of hard work and dedication for Mwinso to get to where he is today, which he knows would not have been possible without the support of his family.

“My dad was the one who was always pushing me and giving me feedback, even when I didn’t want to hear it,” Mwinso said. “When I was younger, we would go out and train and he’d tell me I’d have to work on my left foot, or one-v.-one skills, and I think without my dad I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point.”

As Mwinso moves onto the next chapter of his soccer career, he continues to aspire towards a successful future. The goals he made at 10 years old are just around the corner, yet Mwinso is already looking ahead to his next big accomplishment.

“Competing at this level and playing with some of the best players in the country is all extremely exciting,” Mwinso said. “My end goal is to play professionally and hopefully get to Europe. Now the journey is just beginning.”