Amanda Matticks loves having the opportunity to serve, in many senses. As the captain of the Rider tennis team, Matticks finds herself serving – and returning – shots to and from her opponents during matches. But the senior Elementary Education and Psychology double major also often finds herself netting “service points” away from the varsity tennis court – and always for others.
Well-known as a member of the SGA Executive Board, the Council for Exceptional Children, Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, and Rider’s annual Relay for Life event, Matticks has also developed a program that really lets her put the “serve” in her mission of advocacy.
For the past three years, the Sewell, N.J., resident has hosted a tennis clinic for a group of approximately 30 children from the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) of Trenton on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus. There, with the help of her teammates from the Broncs’ men’s and women’s tennis programs, Matticks provides instruction in the mechanics of the sport, but the real purpose, she says, is larger than the game.
“We run drills, like forehand, backhand and volley techniques, and the kids really click with the Rider team members,” said Matticks, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic honoree. “They all have played tennis before, and some are very talented, but in a lot of cases, this is the first time they have seen a college campus. I think that’s important. They’re able to take in the atmosphere, and meet some role models. They really look up to the Rider players.”
Matticks has been associated with NJTL of Trenton since her sophomore year at Rider, when she interned for the nonprofit organization in its South Broad Street office. Today, she serves as Rider’s liaison to NJTL.
If it seems as if Matticks’ concern for the futures of her young guests runs deeper than tennis, it’s true. Advocacy is something the Special Education minor calls a “passion,” and it cuts a wide swath across her entire life.
“Being a special education teacher is being an advocate,” explained Matticks, who spent the spring semester student-teaching in West Windsor. “When you’re working with special needs kids, you are there to focus on them and help them grow.”
Matticks also held an internship at a psychiatric unit, Collingham Child and Family Centre, part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Schools. She was a teaching assistant intern working with students with childhood schizophrenia.
Matticks was recently awarded the President’s Award at Rider University’s Awards Banquet on April 30.
“Receiving this award really allowed me to reflect on my past four years at Rider and gave me the confirmation that all of my hard work and dedication was really worth it and was recognized,” she said. “I am very thankful for this recognition and I am excited to represent Rider. In four short years Rider has provided me with the skills and experiences of a lifetime that will allow me to accomplish my future goals.”