If you need a listening ear or soft shoulder, one Copperas Cove High School junior may be your safe haven. Or she may one day motivate you on a speaking circuit.
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Arrisola stood with millions of other Christians in Brazil less than 10 feet away from the pope. The occurrence would affect who she would become and what she believed.
“My experience (seeing the pope) was life-changing. It was very emotional and amazing,” said Arrisola who spent two years raising $3,500 to go on the weeklong mission trip with her church. “Church retreats can change a person’s life in a matter of seconds. Speakers inspire me with the passion they have for what they do. I would like to become a motivational speaker or a psychologist.”
Arrisola hopes to attend the University of Texas where her brother is a student. “I have been a die-hard Longhorn fan since I was born. It would be a dream come true if I ended up (at UT),” said Arrisola, who works in the nursery at Holy Family Catholic Church.
She works with other teens Sunday and Wednesday nights and does multiple service projects with the youth group, including relocating an elderly couple’s home, preparing food boxes for My Brother’s House and helping with vacation Bible school. Arrisola, spends six to eight hours in the church.
“Last year, it really hit me. I used to go to church because it was a ritual in my family. But last January, we got a new youth pastor, Megan James, who pulled all of the teens together,” Arrisola said. “We have an unbreakable bond. We are a family. Our priest is awesome, too.”
Arrisola, who has a 4.2 GPA and is ranked 24th in a class of 565, also plays varsity soccer for CCHS and club soccer in Temple. She has played in multiple showcases and loves the game. Her coach, Hagen Streckel, said her Christian influence is obvious on the field.
“(Arrisola) is probably more deeply dedicated to doing the right thing than the other girls on the team. During the summer, she showed up to practice every single day. She always knew what it took to get the job done and was never lazy,” Streckel said. “She is not a boisterous leader but instead leads by example.”
Streckel said Arrisola’s skill set on the field is very strong with the technical part of the game but also the tactical aspect.
“She knows how to make the team better by how she moves. She is one of three players on the team who plays soccer instinctively,” Streckel said. “There is no wasted time thinking. She just gets it done.”