UB record holder Amy Shaw looks to finish her last season strong
Amy Shaw was set to leave subtropical New Zealand for snowy Buffalo after just two calls with the head coach.
For the senior studio art major, this was the first step of many to leaving her legacy on UB’s track.
Shaw holds the school’s 5k records for the indoor and outdoor track, running 16:29 and 16:43 respectively.
“New Zealand is a small country. There’s only 4 million people, so I would show up to races and only four girls would be on the line and it just wasn’t becoming exciting for me anymore. I looked to the U.S. to take my running to the next level,” Shaw said.
She started running cross-country at a private club in her hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. Shaw used to run as an excuse to stay fit for netball, a sport similar to basketball, which is popular among girls in New Zealand.
“I did a bit of training and came in third in my school’s cross country race and thought, ‘Hey this isn’t too bad,’ so I joined our local club where two of my friends were running,” Shaw said.
Shaw spent her freshman year of college in Auckland and continued running as a side hobby. She decided to pursue running at the collegiate level in the states as a way to reignite her love for the sport.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that connects sports and college along with attractive scholarships. When searching for a school, Shaw said that if there wasn’t a full ride, it wouldn’t be worth the trip from the South Pacific.
“The more I thought about it, if I could get a full ride to run somewhere in the U.S., that’d be cheaper than me staying at home and would let me face bigger competition,” Shaw said. “I saw other New Zealanders doing it so I thought it might work for me.”
Shaw needed runners at her level to push her and the NCAA could provide her with those opponents. She had a high school friend that played soccer for UB and kept up with his posts on social media showcasing the school. Shaw decided UB might be a good fit for her and liked the idea of being in New York State, which for her is the “epitome of living the American dream.”
“I thought it was going to be way closer to New York City, so that was appealing to me,” Shaw said. “At the time the school’s branding said ‘New York’ in big, bold letters and the thought of NYC was enough for me to make the move.”
But after two successful seasons, Shaw is forced to watch her team from the sidelines in the midst of her third and final season as a Bull.
Shaw hurt her lower back training over winter break and the injury has flared up in the past few weeks, according to head coach Vicky Mitchell.
“She had been working with a chiropractor there too and when she returned, she worked with our athletic trainers and things were starting to feel good,” Mitchell said.
Her training started to progress well, but about three weeks ago, the injury flared up. Shaw went from having seven weeks to prepare to qualify for the MAC conference meet to four.
Mitchell describes Shaw as an extremely hard working student and athlete. The coach thinks that Shaw’s dedication to the sport is what helped her achieve such top times, leading to new school records.
“Her first year, she ran well, but her second year is when she really saw some dramatic improvements in her performances,” Mitchell said. “Part of that is that any student in their first year is going through a transition of a new training system and adapting to it, she put in all the work she was supposed [to] and built a solid foundation her sophomore year and was ready to rock and roll her junior year.”
Shaw’s teammates had nothing but praise for the senior. Many of them look up to Shaw as an example for their own training.
Morgan Mahoney, a junior social science major, frequently trains with Shaw and expressed her appreciation for Shaw’s dedication to the team.
“She’s a leader, she’s always full of energy and ready for practice,” Mahoney said. “She’s excited to get the day going and finish her workouts and runs. I look up to her. She’s a great teammate.”
Mahoney describes Shaw’s presence on the team as fun-spirited and bubbling with affection for her fellow running mates. She said she looks up to Shaw as a role model on and off the track, and enjoys the time they spend training together.
“Just watching her race is amazing. She seems to go through no pain and lap after lap just keeps ticking them off, which is so inspiring to watch,” Mahoney said.
While running takes up most of her time, Shaw spends her free time tutoring other athletes in nutrition and psychology.
Though her career has been rewarding, it doesn’t come without its downsides. Buffalo is a far flight from New Zealand and she is often home sick.
“I got quite envious of my teammates’ ability to just pop home for the weekend,” Shaw said. “Sometimes you just want to escape from here. I can't just stop by New Zealand for the weekend and that’s tough.”
Shaw recently visited New Zealand for the holidays. She found it tough to leave her home again and uses her roots as inspiration whenever she needs an extra shove on race day and in her classes.
Shaw plans on returning to New Zealand after graduation and will continue to run with her old private club.
She also has an interview lined up to work retail for Nike. She hopes to climb the corporate ladder and land a job more closely related to her degree and graphic design.
“I think of home, I think to myself, ‘I’m this far away from home and I’ve been given this awesome opportunity, that I better run my heart out or else what am I doing halfway across the world?’ I’m here for a reason and I just want to live up to my scholarship as much as possible and do mom and dad proud,” Shaw said.
Max Kalnitz is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org