Serving's her style
Women’s basketball guard Amanda Deal had a good idea of how she wanted to spend at least part of her 2012 summer, thanks to an emotional and memorable experience in 2010.
Deal, a senior English major, has a passion for community service. She is vice-president of Cal State L.A.’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, a group that performs community-service projects throughout the academic year. She has also traveled outside the United States during the past two summers with a church group to lend a helping hand at orphanages in El Salvador. She was so moved by her first trip two years ago that she vowed to make a return trip this summer.
“I knew when I left that I’d be coming back,” Deal said. “I’ll never forget getting off the plane; it’s just an entirely different world. Seeing the things I saw and hearing the stories from 12- and 13-year old girls, seeing babies abandoned … it was just heartbreaking. I was determined to go back and try to make a difference.”
Deal went to El Salvador for one week in July with a group of 19 that traveled to San Salvador, the country’s capital, and visited two orphanages. Deal’s summer trip included serving meals to the homeless, painting and refurbishing buildings and playing soccer with boys from another orphanage.
The highlight of the trip came when the group hosted a quinceañera, a traditional Latin American celebration for a girl turning 15, for 40 girls in the orphanage.
The team spent three days in preparation. Deal and fellow volunteers helped beautify the girls, who had been abused, neglected and abandoned, she said.
“They never had a dad tell them how beautiful they are or a mother to nurture them,” Deal said. “It was great to see the looks on their faces and see how much they appreciated what we were doing.”
The girls were escorted down a red carpet to the party and each received a handmade necklace. They ate dinner and were treated to a night to remember that included a 15-member samba band.
“It was really cool,” Deal said. “Some of the girls slept in their dresses because they didn’t want the evening to end.”
When her own trip was nearing its conclusion, Deal said she, too, didn’t want the special summer to end.
“It was very emotional,” she recalled. “Some of the girls remembered me from last year and they hugged me and told me they didn’t want me to leave. I didn’t want to leave, either.”
Deal looks forward to a second season with Cal State L.A.’s women’s basketball program that acheived some great things in 2011-12. The Golden Eagles reached the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Game and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for only the second time in the program’s history. Deal played in 19 games for the Golden Eagles last season and will be one of the team’s co-captains this season.
“She’s the ultimate teammate. She’s always caring for other players. When someone has a bad game or needs to be lifted up, Amanda is always there for them,” women’s basketball coach Janell Jones said. “She’s a remarkable young lady, not only for our program, but also for how she wants to give back and help people. She’s doing something that impacts so many people in such a big way.”
Deal aspires to teach English in a foreign country after she graduates, and has already made plans to join the Peace Corps.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Deal and CSULA Division of Intercollegiate Athletics