Jun 06, 2020

Getting a kick out of life

Juan Villa / The Collegian

Obstacles are nothing.

For Fresno State women’s soccer player Amanda Reyes, overcoming obstacles is just part of the game.

With a father who coaches baseball and three brothers who play sports, she has been molded into a “tough girl” — and it’s no surprise Reyes has chosen to make sports a part of her life.

“I knew sports were going to be huge [because] I grew up with it in my family. That’s how I open up,” Reyes said. “If you want to start a conversation with me, bring up sports. I can talk forever about it.”

Defensive player Reyes, 21, is graduating next semester with her bachelor’s in mass communication and journalism, with an emphasis in public relations.

“She’s been a good, solid player this year,” coach Steve Springthorpe said.

At the age of nine, Reyes began playing club soccer and three years later, she started playing competitively.

“My mom just put me in [soccer],” Reyes said. “I played T-ball with my brothers and played a year of softball and then soccer — and I just stuck with soccer because I liked it.”

Her passion for sports is so strong, she said, that she “would be a completely different person” if she wasn’t an athlete.

Despite her love of soccer, there have been obstacles she has had to overcome in order to continue playing.

The journey towards being an accomplished player and part of a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship team has not been an easy one, Reyes said.

Juan Villa / The Collegian

The most difficult obstacle in her college career came during her sophomore year, a time that “changed me as a person on and off the field,” Reyes said.

After losing her starting position at the beginning of her sophomore year, Reyes said she had a rough time adjusting.

Her coach had expectations of her, the main one being the fitness test — a test of physical endurance that Reyes had to pass to continue playing soccer.

“I had never passed it [before] and that summer I just worked extremely hard,” Reyes said. “I worked out twice a day and played soccer with boys because they play a lot quicker. That really helped. I just really pushed myself.

“I hit rock bottom my sophomore year and once I passed the fitness test and got my starting spot back, it gave me a lot more confidence on and off the field,” Reyes said.

The fitness test is all physical up until a certain point, then it’s pretty much mental, she said.

Springthorpe saw a change in Reyes as well, saying he has “seen a lot of growth” and that she “has come a long way since freshman year.”

“You’ve got to push yourself through it and I think I really am a lot more mentally there now, mentally stronger,” Reyes said. “My parents even noticed [a change] in me, confidence-wise.”

It was that newfound confidence that enabled Reyes to play up to her full potential, eventually earning her the honor of a Fresno State Scholar-Athlete for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

“I know I have to get good grades because soccer is going to end sometime,” Reyes said. “I did an internship last spring for ESPN radio and it just kind of got me thinking college is going to end, soccer is going to end. I’ve got to start my life.”

Just recently, she also earned the award for WAC Defensive Player of the Week.

“It’s nice to get recognized,” Reyes said. “That was great — it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, to get that award.”

Not only is she considered a scholar-athlete, but also a role model.

Reyes said she aims to teach other players, especially freshmen that they need to “get the job done on and off the field; academically [and] socially.”

To be an example to the team, she said she works hard during practice and helps teammates if they need support.

She’s a “behind-the-scenes, quiet leader for us,” Springthorpe said.

And when it comes to Reyes needing support and motivation, she turns to her teammates and family.

“A lot of [motivation] comes from my teammates,” Reyes said. “In the locker room, they’ll get you pumped up, get you in the mood to play.

“My family’s so supportive. They come to games. They’re always helping me out, telling me what I’m doing wrong, what I need to work on and how good I’m doing.”

Because of her leadership qualities and athleticism, she was able to earn her spot on the Fresno State team four years ago.

Reyes was recruited from her hometown of Newhall, Calif., where she attended Hart High School.

“[Fresno State] was one of my options. I didn’t think I was going to come here until I came on my recruiting trip. I loved the atmosphere,” Reyes said. “[Fresno] is like three hours from where I lived so it was just far enough and just close enough. The team and facilities made it easy.”

After graduation and retiring from her role on the soccer team, Reyes hopes to remain in the world of sports.

“I want to stay in sports — in the sports industry either doing promotional work for a major league team or sports broadcasting,” Reyes said. “I got a little taste of that at my internship, so I think I might want to do that.”

Her hopes don’t stop there, though. Reyes said she would also consider coaching soccer at an elementary level, trying out for the U.S. or Mexican national soccer team or continuing schooling in public relations or for a teaching credential.

“[Soccer] takes up a lot of my time. It’s hard to juggle academics, school and social life, but so far [I’m] doing a pretty good job of it,” Reyes said. “It’s part of being a student athlete, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”

Previous Story

Across the Universe Soundtrack Review

Next Story

Championships in sight for XC