Most people would assume that an athlete who’s also a psychology major would have a mental edge against her competitors.
Instead of psyching out her opponents, however, Temple junior thrower Amanda Cole psyched out herself at last year’s Atlantic Ten Conference Indoor Track Championship in Kingston, R.I. The New Castle, Del.-native finished fourth and sixth in the shot put and weight throw, respectively.
“When I went to A-10s last year, I was too serious and we don’t practice like that,” Cole said. “Usually we’re real laid back and goof around. So I kind of psyched myself out. I didn’t do as well as I should’ve done.”
For Cole, who has been participating in track and field since third grade and throwing since eighth, this season has been about reversing last year’s outcome.
“Amanda’s really focused on technique, focused on getting stronger, focused mentally on being an excellent thrower and it’s all a credit to her because she’s worked really hard,” coach Stefanie Scalessa said.
That hard work has paid off for Cole in the past two meets.
At the Gotham Cup at the New York Armory on Friday, Jan. 18, Cole broke her own school record in the indoor weight throw with a distance of 52-2 ½ feet. At the Great Dane Classic Friday, Cole won the weight throw again, this time coming within less than an inch (52-1 ¾) of tying the record she set the previous week.
As a freshman, Cole threw for 31 feet. She has become the school record holder in both the outdoor hammer throw, with a distance of 121-8, and the indoor weight throw.
In addition to those events, Cole also competes in the discus and shot put. The weight throw, however, remains her favorite.
“I actually hated the weight when I first started doing it my freshman year,” Cole said. “But it’s my favorite event now, probably because I started getting kind of good at it.”
That success and her continual record-breaking has earned Cole numerous accolades, but has also placed her under constant pressure.
“I kind of feel pressure to keep getting better in the weight and hammer because those are supposed to be my top events,” Cole said. “Every time I break a record, it’s kind of like I’ve got to keep doing it again.”
“There’s like a level that I’ve reached and I feel like I have to keep setting the bar higher and higher and higher,” she added. “When I break a record, I’m happy for myself, but at the same time I’m like, ‘Now I’ve got to do it again.'”
To combat that pressure and to avoid psyching herself out like she did at last year’s indoor A-10s, Cole has developed a regular routine that she now follows at all meets, in addition to the preparation she does during practice.
“Now when I go to meets, I kind of try to relax, do regular routine things, and joke around so it’s not too serious,” said Cole. “I know going into the meets what I can do, and I just have to do that. It helps having done sprints, stairs and a lot of weight training in practice.”
Cole uses the indoor season to get prepared for the outdoor season, but that doesn’t mean she’s looking past upcoming meets or the A-10 indoor championships in Rhode Island on Saturday, Feb. 16.
“I’m definitely trying to get a medal at A-10s, there’s no question about that,” Cole said. “Obviously, I want to win, but I’d be somewhat content with getting a medal this year because our conference, especially Rhode Island, is really competitive in the weight and the hammer.”
First-year throwing coach Aaron Ross has even higher expectations.
“I’d like to see Amanda qualify for the [Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship] indoors and place in the top three in both the weight and the shot put,” Ross said.
As long as Cole maintains the mental toughness she’s developed this year, breaking records, earning medals and winning events could become second nature.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.