HELMETTA/SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Amanda Mendez is better known by her Spotswood High School girls soccer teammates, friends and family as Mandee. The senior recently committed to take her exceptional soccer skills to Rider University's division one women's soccer program. Mendez has been a standout for the Chargers since she became a starting midfielder freshman year.
The Helmetta native's very first soccer team was the Groundhogs. She hit the field as a four-year-old with the Spotswood Soccer Club. Her earliest soccer memory was playing on the field with her teammates and being proud of wearing her uniform along with her pink cleats.
"My mom made a blanket out of the picture that I loved of myself," Mendez said of her first soccer season.
It wasn't long before Mendez moved on to travel soccer and the Monroe Township Hawks. Today, she plays for FC Copa G03 Black NL, which is an elite travel academy team in Metuchen, in addition to being one of the captains for the Chargers girls varsity soccer team. The announcement about her decision to commit to Rider comes before the start of her final season in blue and gold for Spotswood High School.
"Other schools had offered me spots, but they never really sparked my interest," Mendez said. "Everyone from Rider that I've talked to was super welcoming. I met a few girls on campus on my first visit, and they seemed like girls I'd love to be my future teammates. Coach Drayson was really nice as well and really easy to talk to."
"Going to a small school all my life at Spotswood High School made me come to the realization that Rider's size was just right for me," Mendez added.
Mendez was relieved to make the all-important decision on which soccer program and educational institution she would commit her future to.
"The amount of work I've put in and obstacles I overcame were so worth it," she added.
The midfielder is extremely competitive by nature and is thrilled about taking her game to the next level with Rider.
"I'm mostly excited about the competition and how much more competitive it will be," she said. "I'm a competitive person in general, so I can't wait for this to push me even more that I'm being pushed."
Mendez's coach at Spotswood High School, Michael Reid was not surprised the teen is an early commit to a division one women's soccer program.
"On top of being talented there takes a certain dedication and drive to play at the next level, and she possesses all of those qualities," Reid said of Mendez. "She has worked extremely hard on improving different aspects of soccer abilities over the past couple of years and it has paid off. I could not be happier for her as she deserves it."