July 28, 2010
UCLABruins.com contributor Seema Choksy recently sat down with women's soccer player Amelia Mathis. The junior talked about her recent club national championship, her leadership qualities, and what she expects the team to achieve in 2010.
You recently captured an Under-23 National Championship with your club team. Talk about that experience.
"Well I've been with my club team since I was about 10 years old so it was actually super exciting for us to get back together. We've been friends since we were kids and we're all away at college now so coming back together was exciting. All of us try to meet every Christmas and do Secret Santa so we're all still pretty close. This is our third national championship so every time we get together our goal is to win a national championship. It's always awesome being back with our family and winning."
You were a three-sport star in high school, playing soccer, basketball, and competing in track & field. What made you decide to stick with soccer in college?
"I think the love for the game was definitely a little bit more than the other two sports. I had a lot more opportunities with soccer. I also didn't get the thrill of winning a national championship in basketball or track. Those sports were just for fun when soccer was not in season. After winning that national championship the first time around when I was 14, I knew that I wanted to play soccer. I actually did want to try to walk on to the basketball team or the track team here at UCLA, but for right now I think soccer takes up enough time, especially with school and everything."
Your bio states that you would love to teach math and coach someday. Is that still your goal?
"I definitely still want to be a coach, however I'm actually thinking of being a counselor or some sort of administrator at a school rather than a math teacher. So I still would like to be involved with a school somehow."
From a personal standpoint, what are some of your goals for this season?
"My main goal is to help this team capture a national championship. Since I've been here we've made it to the Final Four every year so getting there is not our worry- it's staying there. I think this year more than anything I want to be someone who is pushing everybody on the team to want to be a national champion. I'm a youth national champion and now I want to win one at the collegiate level. Another goal I have is to push everybody to the best of their abilities."
In addition to All-American Lauren Cheney, the team lost a number of senior starters from last year. Is this team capable of another College Cup run this year?
"It seems like this has been one of the big questions surrounding our program lately. I definitely think if we come together and play as a team we can do anything. We did lose a lot, but I don't necessarily think we need a top-named athlete to be successful. And we still have two outstanding seniors - Lou (Barnes) and Kylie (Wright) - to lead us. We just need to rely on each other. I think you have to look at the person next to you and know that even though they may not be the number one recruit, they're still going to do anything to win a national championship. We've been training all summer so we're really excited to get out there and get going."
You obviously had your choice of colleges coming out of high school. What ultimately made you decide on UCLA?
"My cousin (Eric Turner) played football here in 1990. I just loved the atmosphere. My club team was known for winning national championships and I wanted to be a part of something that was similar, and everyone knows that UCLA is associated with winning national championships. UCLA has this huge family of alumni and I just love it. When I came here on my recruiting trip I knew exactly that this is where I wanted to be. The people are super nice and you're in L.A...it's just awesome!"
In addition to playing a number of sports in high school you were also class president. Is being a leader something that comes natural to you?
"Yeah I definitely love the whole leadership thing. I've been captain of my club team since I was 10. Being class president was something that fell into my hands because nobody stood up to be president. I was thinking, `Hey I'll do it. It's my senior year and I want to have fun.' So with me, when nobody steps up, that's when I shine the most. I'm not going to be quiet. And if there is something I want to do, I'll get it done. There may be times where I let other people lead, but that's leadership too - making sure that other people step up. I'm an upper classman now and I know the ropes, so I expect to be a lot more vocal than I was before. So yes, leadership is something that has always come natural to me."
What are some of the things you enjoy doing outside of playing soccer?
"I love hanging out with my teammates. They call me the mom of the team, or the grandma so to speak, because I love just laying on the couch and watching TV. I'm obsessed with Lifetime shows and soap operas so I'm kind of like an old woman. I love to just relax.