College track • Utes' throwing specialist excels in classroom, plans to attend medical school.
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The sun is always shining for Amanda Pais.
Utah's junior track athlete isn't a record breaker. Nor, unless she finds some untapped reservoir, is she destined to become a throwing star for the Utes.
Yet the all-conference academic performer in the hammer, discus, javelin and shot is an important piece of the overall success of a growing Utah track program. Pais, a native of Brazil who speaks without a trace of Portuguese accent, is majoring in linguistics with a 3.6 grade-point average and plans to attend medical school.
"She's going to get better," said Utah track coach Kyle Kepler. "Hopefully, she will meet her potential and score points for us. Teams need people like Amanda. She understands that.
"She's a teammate everybody likes."
Kepler couldn't help but chuckle when told the reason Pais, who starred in track and volleyball for Taylorsville High, competes in so many events.
"Have you ever been to a track meet?" Pais asked. "They're 10 hours long. If you're in just one event, it's boring."
She called her broken foot after accidentally dropping a shot put on it her freshman year a rookie mistake.
"That's Amanda," Kepler said.
Pais also tore her meniscus as a sophomore. Nevertheless, she said, "I definitely have a good feeling about the upcoming year."
Pais certainly is flexible about her future. Maybe she will teach English. When it comes to medical school, when she decides the time is right, she would like to work with children. She spends plenty of time at Primary Children's Medical Center.
"I love that," she said. "[But] medical school doesn't have to be tomorrow. I like to go with the flow, yes. Maybe it comes from being an athlete, the flexibility that comes with it."
Just how Pais and her parents Selma Bastos and Mario Pais arrived in Utah from São Paulo, Brazil, is certainly different. Pais was 12 when the family arrived in Salt Lake City on a vacation and decided to stay.
It was that simple.
"We never wanted to move here," she said. "It is kind of weird. I don't feel as if Brazil is home anymore. I love it here. It's completely different."
While you can take the girl out of Brazil …
"There's a huge Brazilian population here," Pais said. "I still eat as much Brazilian [style] food as I can."
Still, Pais dove right into the American culture. While she did well in high-school sports, Pais also earned a diploma of merit, a Sterling Scholar award and an AP Scholar Award.
Pais originally wanted to attend college in Washington, D.C. Her plans changed younger sister Kamille was diagnosed with autism.
"I decided to stay here, and I'm glad I did," Pais said.
So is her coach.
"She competes hard," Kepler said. "She's a solid kid with a real good perspective."
Utah's Amanda Pais
Was born and raised in Brazil.
Came to Utah for a vacation and stayed.
Throws the shot put, javelin and discus.