Jan. 14, 2003
Senior Aneal Helms, a four-year member of the Brown University Volleyball Team from Falbrook, CA, knew from the first time she saw Brown that it was a perfect match. "When it was time to look at colleges, I looked at Santa Cruz and Berkeley, but my Dad told me to keep looking, because I will fall in love with a school and know that I belong there," said Helms. Aneal then looked East and the more she heard about Brown, the more she liked it. Brown had the right competition level and she fell in love with the University.
Helms has been the captain of the squad for the past three years. Throughout her tenure she has accumulated 774 career kills, 421 digs, 42 aces and 200 blocks. But Aneal's experiences off the court have been just as rewarding.
Helms took the spring semester of her junior year off to travel to Ecuador. While in Ecuador, Aneal lived with an indigenous family, and taught them how to play basketball and soccer. She also taught them how to speak English.
Helms went on to teach at two different schools during her two months in Ecuador. Most of the people she encountered while teaching were artisans. They made tapestries and sold them on the main strip as their main source of income. Aneal taught these people simple sales terms in English, not to mention small talk with the tourists.
After two months in Ecuador, Aneal wanted to broaden her own Spanish, so she went on to travel for a month in Peru with two other people from the program. "I needed a break from school and from routine, so I took off on my own for the first time without my family," expressed Helms of her travels.
Helms returned to the United States just in time for some more traveling. This past summer she worked as an Assistant Crew leader for the Northwest Youth Core in Oregon. Aneal worked with a group of 10 youths, ages 14-15, on the trails of Oregon. "We were not set out to be mentors, we started out as crew leaders. But along with that we wore several other hats like teacher, disciplinarian and friend as well as mentor," said Helms.
Throughout the summer Helms learned just as much from the young adults as they learned from her. "It was hard in the beginning of the summer to switch hats from friend to disciplinarian, but we learned by the end of the summer how and when to wear which hat," expressed Helms of her several different roles.
While in Oregon they worked on constructing and reconstructing trails. "I came back in the best shape I was ever in from carrying logs and using different tools on a daily basis," said Helms. "There was no pressure on me to stay at Brown over the summer. I love volleyball but it does not rule my life."
Helms has the utmost respect for the Bears' volleyball program and Head Coach Diane Short, who holds individual meetings with her players three times a month. "Diane is very open to talking about anything. She cares so much about us as students and college kids, and understands where we are coming from," said Helms. "She also understands if we cannot make a practice. She knows we are students and education is our number one goal while at Brown."
Helms, who recently decided on changing her major from education to history, feels that "the fact that I changed majors is what I am focused on right now. Where I go with history is still up in the air."
With all of these activities and extracurricular activities, Aneal also finds time for 'Best Buddies," which is an organization that pairs a college student with a mentally retarded adult. Aneal has been with the same person, Anna, for the past four years. "It makes me so happy to see how excited she gets when we go out for coffee and do other things. I am the one who is getting rewarded. I look forward to our meetings."
The Bears' volleyball team finished 10-16 overall and 6-8 in the Ivy League.