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In Running for a Big Year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lobos’ Collins Is A Midfield Whiz

COURTESY UNM ATHLETICS New Mexico midfielder Amanda Collins is praised for having a non-stop motor.

A midfielder, UNM soccer coach Kit Vela likes to say, is the engine of a team. A midfielder makes short and long kicks and communicates constantly with the defense and offense. Oh, and a midfielder runs a lot, just like an engine.

Amanda Collins is the Little Engine That Could.

Collins, a midfielder from Aurora, Colo., estimates she does 5 to 6 miles each game. Last season, as a true freshman, she started and played in every game for the Lobos. Nineteen matches in all. This season she has done the same.

Add in practices, exhibition matches and various workouts, and during a season she racks up the mileage of a ultra-marathoner.

“I wasn’t expecting to play that much last year,” says Collins. “I was just hoping I could play a bunch. But I’m an athlete and I want to contribute.”

The secret behind all that dashing up and down the pitch? It’s called Track Challenge, and here’s how it works: During the summer, Collins runs 300 yards on a track. She does three of them in 50 seconds to a minute. That done, she then runs a mile, with a minute break. Then an 800 and a break. Then a 400, then a 200, then 10 20-yard dashes, all with short breaks. And all at near full speed.

When preseason begins, the team has two-a-days. Fitness in the mornings, games in the afternoon. “Usually our practices are pretty tough,” she says.

During the season, Tuesday it fitness day. Then add weight-room work.

“At the end of last season, I got a little bit fatigued,” says Collins. “There really was a lot of playing. I had a few un-serious injuries, but nothing to keep me out. I felt good I was able to perform.”

She credits Track Challenge.

Last season Collins played outside midfielder. This season she is defensive mid-center.

“I really like it and feel comfortable that I can help out,” she said. “ The ball comes to me a lot, and my job is to get the ball and switch the point of attack and keep us defensively compact.”

“Amanda,” says Vela, “is the glue that holds us together.”

In the midfield, the 5-foot-6 Collins finds plenty of contact. “Our team is often smaller and we play against a lot of bigger girls.”

New Mexico recruited Collins heavily.

“When I came to visit, I liked all the girls and the environment,” she said. “They seemed genuine and worked hard. Kit and Jorge (Vela, assistant coach) gave me the feeling that I was going to play.”

A big plus in Collins’ favor was that she had been a winner when she arrived. She had won a national championship with a club team. In fact, she has since won two.

Her team, Colorado Rush Nike, based in Littleton, Colo., plays year-round. Collins helped the team take the Youth National Championships as a high school senior, and this past summer the team won again. She had been playing with the team since she was 13 and last summer was her last hurrah.

“It was the best way to end our time together,” she said.

She wants to try professional soccer if the opportunity presents itself, after college.

Before then, there’s a degree in elementary education to obtain. Last fall Collins had a 3.6 GPA and finished with a 4.0 the second.

Her favorite pro player is Sol Campbell, a center back for several years in the English Premier League: “I think he works really hard. He’s not one of those players who is showy. You wouldn’t notice him as the star.”

Sounds quite a bit like Amanda Collins.


Women’s Soccer UNM Nike Classic Cal State Northridge (3-3-0) at New Mexico (5-0-0), 7 p.m., UNM Soccer Complex
Tonight, Cal State Northridge: scored 100th program win in 2008 Sunday, Tulsa (1 p.m.): 8-9-3 overall last year, finished with win over SMU
Sept. 23, Northern Colorado: reached conference championship in 2008
Sept. 25, Northern Arizona: Lumberjacks made NCAA field last season Oct. 3, TCU: Beginning of conference play. “The MWC is very competitive,” says Vela. “It’s among the top-10 conferences in the country.”

Youth tickets are $2 in celebration of Youth Soccer Month. Single game tickets for Lobo women’s soccer are $5 for adults. UNM faculty/staff and students get in free with UNM ID. All Lobo women’s soccer home matches will be streamed live through Lobo TV on Lobo women’s soccer Sports Information director Daniel Archuleta will provide playby-play and former Lobo player Shannon Adragna will add color commentary. Live stats will be available through Gametracker on for all women’s soccer home matches. All neutral games for the UNM Nike Classic will be streamed through Lobo TV and will also feature Gametracker.