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Nebraska Student-Athlete Spotlight: Amanda Gates
October 21, 2008
By Jessica A. Schwager
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Nebraska volleyball player Amanda Gates is no stranger to making an impact on her team.

Over the last four years, the 6-2 senior from Columbus, Neb., has helped the Huskers to an NCAA title, an NCAA runner-up finish, and three Big 12 Championships.

After backing up All-Americans Melissa Elmer and Tracy Stalls, Gates moved into the starting lineup this season. She raised her game to match the promotion, ranking among the Big 12 leaders in blocks (1.16) and hitting percentage (.356) with a career-high kills per set (1.6).

Nebraska coach John Cook credits the Huskers’ 18-0 record to seniors like Gates, Jordan Larson and Rachel Schwartz. Their leadership has helped steady a lineup with four sophomore starters.

“Amanda is the ultimate Nebraska volleyball player,” Cook said. “She is maxing out everything she has every time she is on the court. She is not the biggest jumper or might not have the quickest arm, but she knows her role well and has the respect of her teammates.”

Gates’ dedication to hard work extends beyond volleyball.

Once the NU Coliseum clears and the lights dim, Gates is busy orchestrating community outreach events for the volleyball team. Since her sophomore year, Gates has been in charge of coordinating team visits throughout the area surrounding Lincoln.

“I just like making an impact in people’s lives, so that’s why I do it,” Gates said. “It’s that smile you get from just giving a helping hand or organizing something. It’s not about what you get in return, but it’s really making an impact in their lives. Everyone is put on earth to do something special and I just feel like that’s a big part of my life.”

Gates, a three-year member of the Nebraska Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, has volunteered in the Lincoln community through many service events. She said motivational speaking and participating in NU’s Dance Marathon tops her list of favorite community activities.

“I like to speak at different events,” Gates said. “I feel like that’s a great way to be able to make an impact pretty easily if you’re telling your story of what you’ve been through. It gives people hope, drive and motivation. But as far as helping out other people, Dance Marathon is always a fun activity. You’re with little kids and it’s all about helping them.”

Gates’ enthusiasm for community service has helped the NU volleyball team win the prestigious Life Skills Award of Excellence for the past two years. Nebraska Life Skills is a program designed to prepare Husker student-athletes for life after their athletic career. Each year, one team is honored for a strong commitment to service, leadership, involvement and supporting student-athlete peers.

“Amanda has embraced all aspects of the life skills program at Nebraska,” said Keith Zimmer, associate athletic director for Life Skills. “She has excelled academically, has matured into an exceptional leader, and has eagerly accepted the role-model challenge.

"I really appreciate the manner in which Amanda has inspired and motivated her peers to develop into a complete person, ultimately making them better prepared for life after college.”

Gates says that she and her teammates appreciate the meaning of winning back-to-back Life Skills awards.

“The awards show that not only are we great players on the court and great students in the classroom, but we're able to give back to our community," Gates said. "To get our team to win two in a row, that’s just really rewarding because we put in a lot of effort. It’s a great award that shows the great women we are.”

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