Hendrix Alumna Headed to 2016 Olympics

Amanda Brooks ’08 and Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic gold medalist CONWAY, Ark. (January 29, 2014) – Though she didn’t train for elite track and field competition as a Hendrix student, Amanda Brooks ’08 credits her alma mater with putting her on the path to the 2016 Olympics.

“I actually have a pretty unusual story, but it shows why a liberal arts education is perfect,” says Brooks, a religion major and English minor who is now a marketing and communications manager for USA Track & Field.

A lifelong sports fan, Brooks played intercollegiate volleyball for three years. She participated in intramurals throughout her time at Hendrix and was the student intramural director for two years. She was also a member of Campus Kitty and Totem and worked at a local church, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Conway, for four years.

“Hendrix taught me to be versatile, dedicated, innovative and passionate,” she says. “All of those lessons have helped me get where I am today.”

After Hendrix, Brooks went to graduate school at Vanderbilt University, where she earned a master's degree in ethics. As a graduate student, she began working in athletics communications because she loved sports and enjoyed writing. Three weeks later, Brooks was on the sideline as Vanderbilt beat Auburn in football on ESPN’s College GameDay.

“I was hooked,” says Brooks, who eventually worked with every sport at Vanderbilt and traveled with football, men's and women's basketball, women's lacrosse, women's soccer and women's track & field. 

She also worked with the Nashville Predators, an NHL hockey team, as a graduate intern, and at both Vandy and the Preds, she coordinated media requests, wrote features, handled game day press, and acted as a liaison between the media and teams & coaches.

Brooks then left Nashville to work for the Florida Gators, first as an intern and then full time. 

“At Florida, my teams combined for four conference titles and three NCAA championships,” says Brooks. “I had similar duties from when I was at Vandy but way more responsibility and on a much more national stage.”

“Social media also really started becoming a part of athletics communications and I got super interested in fan interaction, social engagement, and how new media becomes part of brand identity and growth,” she says.

This fall, Brooks was approached by USA Track & Field about a potential job. After a lengthy interview process, she started in November. As a marketing and communications manager, Brooks has the same duties as she had in her previous jobs, and she’s also solely responsible for social and new media.

She is also helping develop the new USATF mobile app and assisting in the organization’s rebranding process, while constantly protecting and promoting the USATF brand and sponsor interests. She works primarily with elite and professional athletes, as well as high-profile retired athletes like 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dan O'Brien and three-time World Champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee. 

This spring, Brooks will represent USATF at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, and the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas. She'll travel with Team USA to the 2015 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in China, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. 

“I don't think I could be where I am without my four years at Hendrix,” she says. “Obviously, college is a time where everyone grows and changes into the people they are today, but being at Hendrix made me fiercely independent, demand the best from myself and know that my hard work will pay off.”

“My professors and mentors supported and challenged me from day one,” says Brooks. “Without every single one of them, especially Danny Powell (former athletic director) and Jennifer and Thad McCracken, there is no way I'd have the confidence and drive I do now as a female in the sports world.”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu