Nov. 7, 2011
By FSU Sports Information intern Adam Shrigley
Spirit and dedication have been a staple point for Florida State athletics for decades. As the university welcomes a new sport to its family, there seems to be no better choice than junior captain Amanda Saxton to represent the sand volleyball program. Quick to point out there's no "I" in team, the Orlando native instills hard work, dependability and faith in her teammates and those around her. With a new facility in place, the lady Seminoles are preparing to hit the sand when the season kicks off this spring.
Splitting time between the sand and indoor volleyball teams allows for a unique opportunity to lead Saxton's teammates to what promises to be a successful first year.
"It's so great to see everyone coming together as a team and focusing on setting the bar high from the start. I love this group of girls and want to be able to serve them in a leadership role in any way possible," Saxton said.
Stepping up and lending a helping hand is nothing new to Saxton, who is very involved in community service initiatives, volunteering and giving back to others. Whether its weekend mission trips or visiting local schools, she is always finding ways to strengthen and guide others.
"Having the ability to speak to younger kids and influence them is special. Being a role model and being able to give back and inspire is something I value and really enjoy doing," she added.
While her dedication and commitment off campus is unquestioned, it mirrors her outlook in the classroom and on the court, setting a tremendous example of how to balance academics and athletics. Recipient of the Golden Torch award, Saxton was recognized as one of the university's top student-athletes recently. Boasting a 4.0 cumulative GPA while double-majoring in communications and business is an indication of her impact in the classroom and on the court.
In the spring, Saxton was also honored at the Golden Nole Banquet for her willingness in the community after being named one of the ACC Top Six Service Award winners. Humbled by the achievement, her family, friends and teammates are who she credits.
"It was an honor to receive the award. I wouldn't be able to accomplish these things without the resources made available to me. It motivates me to be an asset and role model, without my teammates there to push me and support me it wouldn't be possible."
Balancing her schedule can sometimes be a challenge while also serving as a walk-on for the nationally ranked indoor team. Using her mornings to play on the sand and afternoons practicing and training with the indoor team, getting used to the differences of the two is still a learning process but she is looking forward to the challenge.
"The strategy is the biggest difference. Having two players instead of six changes the way you play the game and move around. I'm still relatively new to the sport but love that I have the opportunity to play on both teams with such amazing teammates."
New Coach Danalee Corso will bring in some needed experience to the first-year program and seems to already be making an impression on the team. A former professional beach volleyball player herself, Corso will take over this spring and knows what she's looking for in her captain.
"Amanda is amazing, not only is she a 4.0 student, but she's now playing two different sports and I'm not sure how many athletes could do that. She received the ACC community service award and I am so happy to see her doing well in sand volleyball," Corso said. "She was an easy choice as a captain for me because she has the qualities of a leader and a role model for the team. I think she is a master of time management and we can all learn from her.
"I have never met a person that focused, meanwhile having an incredible disposition. She'll never complain and is never negative on anything, feels blessed to have an opportunity on both teams and the team can learn a lot from her as well as all of us."
As the season inches closer, Corso will continue to push the team and stay on top of the girls, something that Saxton says will pay off.
"Coach Corso is tough and will get on you but she makes us all want to do better. Learning a new sport, I want someone that's on me all the time so if I'm doing something wrong she can correct me. It's a great player-coach relationship, she's been outstanding so far in helping all the girls and making sure this program gets started off on the right foot."
Fourth-year indoor volleyball head coach Chris Poole can certainly agree with Corso when talking about Saxton's wonderful traits. What Poole sees in Saxton is a tireless worker who shows an enormous amount of dedication toward the program that is unmatched. She brings an enormous smile each and every day to practice and brings an attitude that can never be taught.
"Amanda has a huge heart for playing FSU Volleyball," Poole said proudly. "You can tell she comes out excited to practice and help the team in any way. It doesn't matter what we are doing, whether it's a drill in practice or community service, she does things with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and loves to be a part of our program."
As a true role model for others, Amanda Saxton embodies everything that is right about intercollegiate athletics. Her spirit deep, dedication unmatched and love for the game and those around her are immense, as Saxton defines the term student-athlete and everything the colors garnet and gold represent.