Oct. 11, 2010
By: Matt Sneed
ARLINGTON, Tex. - Senior cross country runner Amanda McMahon has enjoyed a strong start to her final season, earning three top-10 finishes in four events and placing second on the team in each race.
Yet her greatest contributions might come from her leadership qualities.
"She is a humble leader who always offers encouragement and is willing to go out of her way for any of us on the team," teammate Marrisa Paz said.
McMahon played soccer and basketball early in her athletic life and didn't give much thought to running cross country.
It wasn't until McMahon's 6th-grade P.E. teacher discovered her potential and forced her to run that she got into the sport.
McMahon immediately discovered she had a natural talent for the sport.
"I got first place at the first cross country meet, so I decided to stick with it," McMahon said.
McMahon continued running in high school, but didn't begin considering the possibilities of running in college until she was a senior at Clear Lake High School in Houston.
McMahon eventually grew excited about the opportunity to run in college met. That led to a meeting with UTA coach John Sauerhage.
"After meeting with coach Sauerhage and seeing the facilities and campus of UTA, I knew this was the place that I wanted to be," McMahon said.
The feeling was mutual.
"Amanda has been a joy to coach," Sauerhage said. "She is a hard working young lady, and very dedicated."
In her fourth season as a cross country runner for UTA, McMahon is the unquestioned leader of the team.
As the leader, McMahon and fellow Senior Perri Ford regularly host "Pasta Night" before meets. The regular pre-meet gatherings give the girls a chance to bond as a team and allow them to hang out outside of practice.
"It allows us to put aside being athletes and lets us unwind together and just be girly girls having fun, listening to music, and cracking jokes," Paz said.
While McMahon enjoys the competition, she also cherishes her time away from the track. She is an advertising major and would love one day to work in sports. McMahon said her dream job would be working for the Houston Astros as the advertising director. She would also enjoy a career that involved teaching and coaching cross country.
"If I decided to go into coaching, I would use coach Sauerhage as my teaching example," McMahon said. "He gets the most out of us."
McMahon already has the leadership part down. Not only does she strive to improve her times, the senior also takes a great deal of satisfaction of helping teammates progress.
Paz said that McMahon's nickname on the team is "Mama Quail," because of her role on the team. Paz also said the senior always makes sure everyone is mentally and physically healthy, on and off the track.
Those leadership traits, Sauerhage said, are what make McMahon so invaluable.
"She's someone you can depend on," Sauerhage said. "She will be hard to replace."