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Sacrifices to Success

Cal State LA athlete tasked with life-changing decision.

Yamani+Wallace%2C+former+Volleyball+player+at+Cal+State+LA%2C+%0Afocuses+on+her+modeling+career.
Yamani Wallace, former Volleyball player at Cal State LA, 
focuses on her modeling career.

Yamani Wallace, former Volleyball player at Cal State LA, focuses on her modeling career.

Cara Gonzales

Cara Gonzales

Yamani Wallace, former Volleyball player at Cal State LA, focuses on her modeling career.

Libby Hall, Contributor

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Yamani Wallace is a broadcast journalism student at Cal State LA. In 2015, she came to the University with the intent to play volleyball on a scholarship, but due to a pre-existing injury she was unable to participate in the Golden Eagle games.

Wallace came to Cal State LA with the desire to fight for her position on the Golden Eagles Volleyball team. She has played volleyball since the age of 11, Playing from such an early age has had a major impact on her life.

She can still remember her first “kill” at Club West back in her elementary school days. With that in mind, she held firmly to the desire to succeed both academically in the classroom and physically on the court.

Encouraged by a teacher, Wallace pursued volleyball with a passion throughout high school and on to college. Joining collegiate athletics as a heptathlete, she decided to focus on volleyball when she transferred to Cal State LA.

“I transferred because my real passion is volleyball and I thought that transferring back to California would be the right move for my volleyball career,” said Wallace.

Because she came in with a pre-existing knee injury, her first two years as a full-time athlete was delayed. On top of that, another surgery this year halted her opportunity to play during the season.

“This year was my break-out senior season,” says Yamani. “I was the only player who was playing the position as Right Side Hitter.”

Yamani also considered modeling which is another career that she’d wanted to pursue after college. Under the circumstances of her limited playing time due to the recovery period, the opportunity to pursue this second interest was available.

“As a kid, my siblings and I did modeling and were in commercials so I already have a bit of a background in that,” she said.

She decided to send out resumes and photos online to agents throughout Los Angeles. Natural Models LA, an agency that focuses on the everyday woman-type, contacted her for an interview. Yamani was offered a contract and shortly after began booking jobs as a “curvy-athletic” model, as the industry described it.

“I love the agency. It’s such a family and the movement that we have going on is amazing” said Yamani.

Suddenly she held two separate contracts and faced a dilemma.

Under the guidelines of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Yamani had violated the contract regulations she’d signed as a Golden Eagle athlete. Yamani would have to make a decision on which opportunity she would pursue moving forward.

Cal State LA is a member of CCAA at the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The fundamental purpose of the NCAA is to oversee, not only fair and safe competition, but also the synchronization of athletics between colleges helping to develop each student-athlete. Becoming part of a college team means each student-athlete must abide by NCAA rules and dedicate their time, image and athletic skills to the organization.

“When playing any collegiate sport, each athlete has to sign a number of contracts. One such contract is from the NCAA, which provides a number of rules that athletes have to follow,” said Yamani. “One of those rules is the Amateurism Rule; there are many sub-parts to that rule, but basically it states that you cannot make money off of your specific sports skill, athleticism or college name.”

Her violation would come with a price. If Yamani wanted to remain with the Golden Eagles, then she would have to make a sacrifice. She was asked to either donate the profits she’d made through modeling to a charitable organization or sacrifice her athletic reputation, roster photos and scholarship.

Her decision to step away from a career for which she transferred continues to live in her heart. But now she will follow through on her modeling career.

“I will deeply miss volleyball and being on my team,” she said.

Despite her setbacks, Yamani continues to support her team on the sidelines. She still attends the games, observes team practice and roots the loudest for her teammates.

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Sacrifices to Success