Beaufort’s Barnes talks Wake Forest decision

Beaufort pole vault athlete Amanda Barnes talks about the journey as she committed to Wake Forest.

What made you decide to commit to Wake Forest?
The team was the biggest selling point for me. As soon as I got on campus for my visit, I felt in place and beyond welcome. As I got to know the team members, I saw how goofy and kind they all were. I really connected to the team, the coach, and the campus. It was easily an all around fit.

What were your other top choices?
Virginia Tech and University of Virginia.

Commitments list

What do you hope to achieve in academics and athletics?
I hope to excel in both. Wake has outstanding academics and a very individualized approach to their vaulting program. I believe that with Wake Forest there is no way that I could be anything but successful in both aspects. The support system is phenomenal.

What did you experience during each visit?
Virginia Tech was my first visit. It was stunning. I was a little awkward though, because it was my first visit. But, they may me feel at home. My second visit was Wake, and I had already known the coach and some of the vaulters. I loosened up a lot and this visit taught me to really be myself so that I am a memorable recruit and so that I see if I really fit into the crew. The University of Virginia was absolutely breath taking. I walked around campus with a smile on my face. This was another great fit. All in all, I learned that with all of the recruits these athletes and coaches see.. I need to be one to stand out or I will not be remembered and being remembered is kind of important.

What would you recommend to others when choosing a college?
Go out of your comfort zone when choosing schools. Visit huge schools, tiny schools, medium sized schools. Visit public and private schools. Even if you are closed minded to a school that has been looking for you to visit, take the visit if there is even the slightest chance that you would like it. My number one school for the longest time stepped down in the ranks after I finished my visits. That is crazy because anyone who knows me knows I had been determined for the longest time that my number one was the only place I would be happy. I went to my other visits with a closed mind, and came out completely changed. Something that I had been so pessimistic about ended up being something that I can't stop talking about.

What does it feel like to have the decision made?
Honestly it is a huge weight off of my shoulders. I didn't think that it would make as much of a difference as it has in such a small amount of time. It feels like I stepped over a huge barrier, and now that I know that I will be going to college to vault I have nothing to worry about. The pressure is off, now it is time to have fun. Having that pressure off has already made a tremendous differences with my performance at practices alone.

What do you hope to achieve this spring?
I hope to have fun this spring. Of course, everyone's goal is to PR.. but my main focus is to have fun in the process.

Looking at your career at Beaufort, what will you remember the most?
The amazing support team that I was beyond lucky to have. My high school coaches were so proud and supportive, and they always kept it fun. They gave me every opportunity to succeed, and watched with smiling faces as I did. My parents played a huge role in coming to every single meet, and driving me 2.5 hours twice a week to practice, and investing in a strength and conditioning coach. Coach Mickel, my strength and conditioning coach, has done more for my success than I could do for myself. He has gotten me ready for high level competition, college level workouts, and has developed me into a real athlete. He has made me faster and stronger, and because of that I am jumping higher than I originally thought I could in high school. Coach Rusty Shealy has done so much for me. Between riding with my family from South Carolina to New York so that he could coach me at nationals, introducing me to college coaches throughout the years, and developing me as a vaulter.. he has been such a force in my success. I have so many people to thank, and not enough words to do so in the way they deserve.

What individuals in your life were involved in helping you make the decision?
My mother, father, Coach Shealy, and my sports psychologist helped me. None of them ever picked a certain school, they just listened to how I was talking about each school separately. Even before I realized that I was going to Wake Forest, they knew. They were fully supportive and let me make the decision on my own. They did not show a bias toward any of the schools. My mom asked me questions, "what if they were all equal tuition?", "what if a certain coach was at this school instead of that one?", a lot of "what ifs".. They wanted to make sure that I was certain before we made it final.