MASCAC Made: Amanda Beckwith, MCLA Volleyball Head Coach
Courtesy of MASCAC Sports Information Office
Volleyball wasn't her sport.
When she was a kid growing up in Hawley, Mass., MCLA volleyball coach Amanda Beckwith was ingrained with the fact she was meant to play basketball. Taller than the other kids and having a teacher who coached basketball at the high school level pushed her into the sport.
Fast forward to seventh grade and Beckwith was having some issues with the concept of boxing out which resulted in the team paying the consequences. Feeling defeated from the sport she loved, a chance encounter in her backyard would change her life completely.
"We had a backyard volleyball set and I said I want to play this and my family said ok you can play," Beckwith said. "I loved it from the start. I went to camp at Stoneleigh Burnham in the summer and made my way to varsity pretty early in my career which was really exciting."
After graduation, Beckwith was on her way to Clark University, but it would be a short-lived trip. Three days into practice, she sprained her ankle. While she was rehabbing, she began getting headaches and was forced to have brain surgery. Due to all the missed class time, she wasn't able to catch up and decided to leave the school.
Moving closer to home in Western Massachusetts, she attended Greenfield Community College. It was her time as a student there she was told about the athletic training program at MCLA.
"When I sprained my ankle, I figured out what athletic training was," Beckwith said. "My high school didn't have a trainer so I didn't know what it was. I originally wanted to be a chemist but then I said no I want to be a trainer."
Not only did MCLA have the field she was interested in, but they had just recently added volleyball back as a varsity sport in 1998. In her first year back on the hardwood, she was named the Trailblazer MVP, an award which is voted on by their teammates and is a person who exhibits leadership, cooperation, attitude and contributes to the efforts of the team. In 2001 and 2002, she was named to the MASCAC Second Team All-Conference squad while also earning team MVP honors again in 2002.
Following graduation in 2003, she got her first taste of coaching at Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Mass. Two years later, MCLA came calling again this time as a part-time assistant coach to her former head coach Ed Paquette. It didn't take long for Beckwith to rise to the ranks of head coach where she has been for the past 10 years.
During the 2015 season, Beckwith added more accolades to her already impressive resume this team leading the Trailblazers team instead of playing on it. After the team earned a share of their first MASCAC regular season title, she was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) DIII New England Coach of the Year. She credits a lot of her success to her fellow coaches and the advice they gave.
"I am thankful that my time in athletic training allowed me to see many coaches," Beckwith said. "I was able to take pieces from coaches I saw. I have taken basketball drills and turned it into a volleyball drill. You learn that you can't do it all on your own. You need mentors because you can't do it all."
Outside of her full-time job at MCLA as the Coordinator of the Center for Service and Citizenship at the Susan B. Anthony Women's Center, Beckwith loves to be outside whether it be kayaking during the summer or skiing during the winter.
Coming from a student-athlete background allows Beckwith to connect on many levels with her current and prospective student-athletes. Although she may have competed over 10 years ago, Beckwith still has some sound advice for all student-athletes.
"You always need to have fun," Beckwith said. "Even if the sport you love is your life, you have to enjoy other things because what happens the day the sports frustrates you or an injury happens. That is why I kayak or ski because I find the natural high I get from competing in volleyball in other ways. "