Mae Coyiuto ‘17, Writer & Editor

This week, we are so excited to highlight Mae Coyiuto ‘17 from Makati, Philippines. 

Mae majored in Psychology at Pomona College. She was a four-time First Team All-SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) selection and compiled a 63-26 career record while playing in a wide range of singles positions (between No. 1 and No. 5) and in all three doubles positions. She played in the top two singles positions in her first and second years before a torn labrum injury in her hip sidelined her during her third season with the Sagehens. While pivotal to the culture, leadership, and success of the PPWT (Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Tennis) Team, Mae was a two-year captain, four-time SCIAC All-Academic Athlete, four-time ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Scholar-Athlete, and member of the 2014 Capital One/CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Women’s At-Large Academic All-District Team. At the end of her senior year, she won the National ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and was honored as the Pomona-Pitzer Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Mae received an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Writing for Children/Young Adults from The New School. She is currently working as a writer and editor (if she’s not falling down a YouTube rabbit hole). Over the years, Mae has written and published five books in the Philippines. Her first book with a U.S. press, Chloe and the Kaishao Boys, will be released in early 2023.

We were very grateful to learn more about Mae’s forthcoming novel and her time as a Sagehen. She has also offered some amazing advice to young Sagehens!

Would you be able to share a brief synopsis of your forthcoming novel? 

Mae: My upcoming book, Chloe and the Kaishao Boys, is a YA (young adult) romcom (romantic comedy). It’s about a Chinese-Filipino girl from Manila whose father sets her up on a marathon of dates in hopes that she’ll get a boyfriend and want to stay in the Philippines for college instead of going to school in the U.S. Basically, lots of chaos and awkward matchmaking.

What inspired you to write this story? 

Mae: Romcoms and YA novels have always been my favorite types of stories. I guess I just really wanted to see that kind of story starring a character that felt like one of the girls I went to high school with.

As you look back, how do you think your time as a Sagehen has shaped who you are and your personal growth?

Mae: It’s funny how the more time has passed since I’ve stopped competing, the more I realize how much tennis, especially my time as a Sagehen, really shaped who I am. Growing up, I had this coach who’d always shout, “Puso!” (“Heart” in English) I never really understood what he meant by that, I just kept on playing. 

When I got to PP (Pomona-Pitzer) though, I think that’s where I realized how to really play with heart. I knew I wasn’t the strongest or most athletic player, but I really cared about my team–and I think that’s why I stuck through the longest matches and stayed through those long nights cheering my teammates on. 

With my career now, I think I’ve adopted a similar outlook. I’m far from the best writer, but I try my best to pour my heart into the pieces and stories I put out there. People can judge and pick apart your skill and ability, but how much heart you put into something? Only you can really know that.

What is one of your favorite memories with the team?

Mae: I have one particular memory that I go back to that always makes me laugh. I remember it was my freshman year and we were warming up for one of our matches. It’s routine that before each match, there would be a set warm-up mix that would play through the courts’ speakers. 

I think the usual iPod that the team used didn’t have any battery so Jamie Solomon ‘13, one of our captains at the time, asked if anyone else could play their music. I don’t know whose idea it was for me to volunteer, but my playlist was the one that eventually got picked. 

I’ve always been pretty quiet on the team and freshman year was when I was especially silent. No one really expected that I listened to a disturbing amount of mid-2000s rap. 

I remember “Cyclone” started playing (yes, the one by Baby Bash and T-Pain). Jamie started dancing, Coach Ann Lebedeff looked appalled, and everyone was trying their best to keep playing and not laugh. I think Coach Ann eventually unplugged my iPod when something even more explicit came on, most likely a song by the Ying Yang Twins. 

Throughout my time on the team, I’m very grateful that I was surrounded by people who always accepted me–love for T-pain and all. 

What was one of the best classes that you took during your time at Pomona and why?

Mae: One thing I wish I did at Pomona was to have taken advantage of the independent study option a little more. For my last semester, I had an independent study with Professor Jonathan Lethem where another student and I would meet once a week to discuss our pages. It’s wild how I essentially had a semi-private class with a bestselling author.

What advice would you give to both incoming and current members of the team?

Mae: Sounds cheesy but I guess my main advice would be to enjoy your time at PP. I got to play tennis almost every day with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met–very few experiences in my life were as special as that. 

Oh also, make the most out of the cereal and yogurt section at the dining halls! I haven’t had that much access to that kind of cereal and yogurt selection since.

(Images courtesy of Mae Coyiuto)

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