Record-setting captain ends varsity track and field career with a bronze

(Edmonton) Materials engineering student Amanda Schneck is finishing her final year of studies and just wrapped up her last year as captain of the U of A Pandas athletics team, earning a bronze medal in pentathlon at the national championships.

“It was a great way to finish off my CIS career,” said Schneck, who broke the Pandas’ records in pentathlon six times in the past two years—four times this season alone. “This was probably the best the Pandas and Bears have done in a long time." The Pandas finished fourth at the nationals last weekend, while the Golden Bears finished sixth overall.

Schneck, one of 42 varsity-level athletes in the Faculty of Engineering, was in fourth place before the 800-metre final event at the nationals in Quebec. There was only one way to the podium. “I knew there were some girls behind me who could run some fast times and one girl ahead of me who I knew wouldn’t, so I just ran it as hard as I could.”

It worked: Schneck turned in a personal best in the race, along with her earlier personal bests in high jump and hurdles.

A fifth-year materials engineering co-op student, Schneck was also recently named the Female Academic All-Canadian Athlete of the Year. The award is given to the top female athlete at the U of A to receive the Academic All-Canadian status, having maintained a grade-point average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing on a university varsity team.

"I was incredibly honoured to receive the award," said Schneck. "The woman who won the same award last year is someone I have always looked up to. To win the same award as an athlete of that calibre is pretty cool."

Schneck also received the Female Student-Athlete Community Service Award, which is awarded annually to the female track-and-field student athlete who best exemplifies the attributes of academic and athletic success, as well as community involvement. More recently, she was awarded the Shell Canada Limited Scholarship in Engineering, based on academic standing and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Involvement might be an understatement. For the average engineering student, finding time for volunteer work might be a stretch. For an engineering student and full-time athlete, Schneck’s list of volunteer work is exhaustive.

Schneck just completed her third year as captain of the Panda’s track and field team; she serves as a vice-president of the University Athletics Board; she is involved with the Engineering Students’ Society, where she has served as associate vice-president of publications; she is Head Shave co-ordinator, handbook co-ordinator and associate vice-president of communications; she has been involved with the Materials Engineering Technical Society where she has served as vice-president academic and vice-president technical; and she has volunteered as a team facilitator and orientation leader for the Centre for Student Development at the U of A.

“I'm a little bit of a pushover,” she jokes, about finding the time to squeeze in all of her commitments. “Ultimately, I do it because I love it, not because it's something to put on my resume.

“Being involved in the engineering community here has been great. The professors in our department are always willing to help. School is just as much about what happens outside the classroom, as it is what happens inside the classroom. I've really enjoyed my time here.”

Schneck has words of wisdom for other students considering engineering and athletics. “You have to be willing to put in the work. You have to go above and beyond what you would do as a normal engineering student,” she said. “If you are passionate about it, it is definitely achievable. I really wanted to be an engineering student and an athlete, so I made it work.”

To support Athletics or Engineering at the University of Alberta please click here.