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How ASU long jumper's move helped her handle mental health issues

Feeling she had failed to reach her potential at the University of Iowa, jumper Amanda Carty feels she is now competing at her best at ASU


ASU fifth-year senior Amanda Carty prepares to land in the women's triple jump at the Willie Williams Classic in Tucson on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Carty tied for third place in the event with a jump of 12.80 meters.

After spending two years at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, Amanda Carty transferred to the University of Iowa and proceeded to make an immediate impact. She produced the third-best marks in the women’s indoor triple jump and long jump in the school's history. 

But she didn't feel she was performing to the best of her ability; it strained her mentally. Despite her performance, she refused to believe she left an impact at Iowa "because I left."

Carty, now a fifth-year senior, made a change for herself and transferred to ASU for the 2019-20 season. The two seasons she has spent with ASU allowed her to realize her maximum potential, something she feels she failed to reach with Iowa.

Carty described her time at Iowa as unstable, saying the mental strain she sustained limited her ability to physically train as hard as she could.

"I reached out for help. I was doing all the stuff but it just didn't feel like it," Carty said. "I had to do what I felt like and what's best for me, and that was leaving."

Her high expectations for herself come from a long period of training in the sport, starting "at a very young age." In third grade, she received a scholarship to attend a private school in Jamaica, where she was born, to run track. 

For her, attending the private school was where everything changed. The coach who offered the scholarship saw something in her that she didn't discover until she began training under him, she said.

Her life began revolving around the sport and she started practicing the long jump in the fourth grade. When Carty was in high school, she was the first female to win the boys and girls championship at her school, which opened up the possibility of receiving an American education. 

"When I was about to graduate, I received a call saying that Barton was interested in giving me a scholarship," Carty said. "They called me with the opportunity, and I needed to take it."

Carty competed at Barton Community College for her freshman and sophomore years of college before feeling like she could be a part of something bigger, because "Barton was a small community group, like family," she said.

She then transferred to Iowa and participated with the team before entering the transfer portal at the end of the 2019 season, with ASU assistant coach John Ellis being one of the first people to reach out to her. 

“Amanda wants to win, she wants to be really good,” Ellis said. “She will never make an excuse, and that’s my favorite thing about her.” 

Carty said ASU's coaching staff showed her what it was like to “feel safe and at home again.” When she took her official visit to ASU, all of the coaches acted as though she was already family. 

Carty officially joined the Sun Devils during the 2019-20 indoor season, and her mental health quickly improved. "One morning, something happened, and the coaches immediately took my call, and I was so surprised to have gotten through to them," Carty said.

"Last semester, just having the doctor saying you don’t look good today or I don’t like how you look, just noticing when I’m off or something, helped a lot," she said. "They would tell me we’re going to get you the help you need, instead of saying you’re responsible for not feeling well."

Dion Miller, director of ASU track and field and cross country, tries to foster a “family culture” and provides a number of resources for the teams' athletes. 

"We want to maximize their potential and improve the quality of their athletics, so we encourage our athletes to take advantage of our counseling services," Miller said.

Carty sat out most of the 2019-20 season due to injury. But in that time, she "learned so much from Coach Ellis" and hopes to push her career in the right direction during the 2021 outdoor season. 

"I am in the best shape I have ever been in, healthy," Carty said. "I know that we have to trust the process and that you just have to be patient. I feel like things are going to be okay, and I’m excited for the rest of the season."

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