By Joe Scalzo
Deja Amato started her soccer career as a 5-year-old in New Mexico on a team sponsored by Dairy Queen. She ended her high school career as a first team All-Ohioan at Howland High School.
Through it all, her reason for playing never changed.
“It’s something I really like to play,” she said. “I don’t want to say I’m not serious about soccer, but it’s more of a fun thing for me.
“I don’t want to go pro or anything.”
Amato, a 5-foot-7 defender, was a two-time district player of the year for the Tigers, helping them win three Metro Athletic Conference titles. She started her career as a forward, then switched to defender late in her sophomore year.
“We don’t get that much attention,” she said, “but it’s an important part.”
Amato was born in New Mexico — most of her family still lives in the area — and moved to Warren when she was 6. She attended Word of Life Christian Academy until eighth grade, when she enrolled at Howland. Amato has been an all-state selection the past two years (she won a district title her junior year) and was also a two-time NSCAA/adidas all-region selection. She was also a member of the Great Lakes Divisional Olympic Development Program (ODP) team in 2005 and spent four seasons as a member of the Ohio North ODP state team. Amato won two Midwest Regional championships and a pair of state cups in club competition.
But when asked to name her career highlight, those honors don’t come up.
“Being senior captain,” she said. “The seniors really get to organize and plan things. It was fun.”
After looking at several different colleges, including Loyola, DePaul and Virginia, Amato signed with the University of Cincinnati. She’s a good student — she carries a 3.4 grade point average — but her path to college hasn’t been that easy. She came down with mono her sophomore year and missed three months of school. She’s missed large chunks over the past two years too.
“It’s been really hard,” she said. “My grades went down, but I’m a lot better now.”
Although she’s undecided about her college major, she’s thinking about architecture.
“I like drawing and I’m good at math, so those things are kind of combined,” she said. “I might like it.”