Aug. 22, 2002
The transition from elementary school into middle school can often be a scary time for students; for Amanda Wain she has two reasons not to be scared and their names are Michael and Dan. The 11-year-old who will celebrate her 12th birthday on Aug. 22 is the baby in the Wain family and her two teenage brothers have already chartered the elementary-to-middle school trek. "Honestly, I am excited and only a little bit scared," Amanda said. "I don't think I am as nervous as the other kids because I have two brothers who have already been there, so basically I know all the procedures. I feel better knowing they have already gone there, and survived."
The only things that even remotely scares Amanda about middle school are those pesky lockers. "Yeah, I am a little afraid about forgetting my locker combination," she said. "It's a big school so sometimes I wonder if I'll get lost."
Wain, who was student council president at Floris Elementary last year, is gearing up for her first day of school at Rachel Carson Middle School on Sept. 3. "I am looking forward to school starting because sometimes the summer gets boring," she said. "We don't usually like to admit that, though."
More than anything, Amanda is eager to meet new friends from the other elementary schools that feed into Carson. "Floris was very good. It had a very homey, family-like feeling," she said. "It was nice because it was like I knew everyone at the school, but I am looking forward to the bigger atmosphere at Carson though it might be harder to stay involved in lots of things."
Amanda's mom, Joan, who sent both of her boys to Carson isn't worried about her daughter's transition there. "Of all the middle schools in the area, I think Carson is a fairly easy one to make the transition to," she said. "I think they tend to coddle kids over there. They don't have to navigate too much and they travel together as a team. If I had any complaints it would be they are too coddling which can make the transition from middle school to high school more difficult."
<b>UNLIKE MANY</b>of her peers, Amanda hasn't had a traditional poolside summer vacation. Having played soccer since the third grade, Amanda has been on a traveling club team from Chantilly for two years. With weekend games in Maryland and Virginia, tournaments in places like Greensboro, N.C. and two-hour practices three or four times week, Amanda has stayed busy all summer long. "It's a lot of work," she said. "But I really like it because I know everyone and I have become really good friends with all the girls on the team."
Susie Germain, a former All-America soccer player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is Amanda's coach. Germain is also a role-model for her team of aspiring soccer players like Amanda who, thanks the WUSA, now dream of playing professional soccer. "I definitely want to go to UNC or Virginia Tech and play soccer," Amanda said.
Germain has coached Amanda for about three years and said while she is still learning to play the position, she shows signs of becoming a very good goalie. "She's a natural team leader, on and off the field," Germain said. "It's her leadership that definitely gives her an advantage. She has a good head on her shoulders and she never gets flustered, that will help her no matter what she does."
Accustomed to working with girls who are Amanda's age including her own eighth grade daughter, Germain says she is sensitive to the situation when her players move from elementary to middle school.
<b>AFTER A COUPLE OF WEEKS</b>, they usually have no problem with the adjustment, she said. And unlike some of her fellow club coaches, Germain still wants her players to have fun while working hard. "It shouldn't be a chore," she said. "If a player calls me and says she can't come to practice because she has too much work, I never punish them for that."
Amanda knows she is getting more than just exercise from her athletic endeavors. "Soccer has taught me to cooperate and work together with people," Amanda, a Washington Freedom fan said. "Plus it really helps me stay disciplined. You have to be a hard worker to be on that team."
As the school year starts in September, the soccer season will get even more intense. For four days a week after school, Amanda will have practice with her team before returning home to manage her increased load of middle school homework and maybe catching up on her favorite show, The Simpsons.
Despite all of her soccer commitments, Amanda says she has had time to swim with her friends at the neighborhood pool right across the street from her Herndon home and help take care of her new puppy, Lucy.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Amanda moved to Herndon with her family when she was one year old. Her dad, John, is a Secret Service agent and her mom, runs a preschool in the basement of their two-story Bradley Farms home where they have lived since moving to Virginia more than 10 years ago.
And while Amanda likes to show off pictures of her dad with the Gore family and Vice President Dick Cheney, Amanda who likes science has no desire to follow in her dad's footsteps. "I think I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up," Amanda said.
<b>THOUGH HER FIRST DAY</b> of seventh grade is still two weeks away, Amanda says she has already started thinking about high school. Though zoned for Westfield High, Amanda thinks she will opt to follow her two brothers at Oakton. "Sometimes I feel like I am planning out my life according of soccer," she said. "I might do this thing called ODP, the Olympic Development Program, because that helps you get on the team in high school and college."
The program would be an additional time and financial obligation for the Wains. Amanda, who plays basketball during the winter, also meets with a personal trainer, Ariel Banowski, a Madison high school soccer player, who tutors her in goal once a week. "I really like being goalie better than any other position because I get a lot of action and I don't have to run up and down the field all day," she said. "Plus, I am pretty good at it, so that makes it pretty fun."
Amanda decided to forgo the ODP program, which she would have needed to try out for, because of her workload this year. "If she did this ODP-thing which I guess is, at some level, beneficial to do, she would then have to add two additional travel days because the team is made up of kids from all over the state," her mom said. "Even though she was eligible to try out, we opted not to because she is starting middle school, it's a Bat Mitzvah year, and we have a new puppy."
"Her dad and I just kind of watch and we take our cues from her," Wain said. "If she is really excited about something then we will do it, but if she sort of has an attitude that is a little uneasy or I think it is too much time, then we don't do it."
<b>HER FRIENDS</b> think Amanda will handle the transition just fine. "I have seen her get stressed because of all her work and soccer," her friend Gabriella Giamichael, 12, said. "But she always gets through it. She is just a really good student and she is really outgoing and allows herself to be with all sorts of groups."
Amanda mom couldn't agree more. "I think with her easy-going temperament, she will have a very easy transition because she's watched the two boys navigate the transition into middle school and high school."
Wain said she is more worried about her daughter's Bat Mitzvah next August than her first day of school this September. "After Michael and Dan, everything with Amanda is easier," she said, laughing. "We worry a lot less about everything with Amanda. They paved the way for Amanda. Now nothing seems quite as monumental the third time around."