WVU Athlete Travels a Long Way from Home
By: Deborah Martinelli
Amy Cashin started running when she was just ten years old.
“Back home, we have PE and those sorts of things, and they just make it mandatory for everyone to run a cross country race,” she said.
Once she started to win those races, Amy’s teachers recommended she take her talents to the local club team in her native Victoria, Australia. It was an idea her parents were not sold on.
“They thought it was a stupid sport, very silly. They were like no, we are not letting you start. They already said no to my older sister,” Cashin remembers.
Her teachers were finally able to convince her parents to let Amy run and it was a good thing they did.
In 11th grade, she began to receive letters from colleges in America expressing interest in having her run for them.
“I actually said no,” Cashin laughs, “I’m going to stay in Australia forever. And then, I kept running and kept getting more offers.”
She was also able to meet the WVU cross country and track team manager, Ilora Cipolat. These meetings showed her something none of the other college offers had.At the World Cross Country Championships, she met two girls from America that had signed with West Virginia University. WVU had offered Cashin a scholarship. She spoke to them about the prospect of coming to America.
“I felt safe that I knew people and I got along with them.”
When she finally made the decision to come to W. Va., her family and friends were ecstatic.
“They are actually the people that convinced me to come,” she said. “They were really happy when I decided to go because they spent a year trying to convince me it was a good idea.”
What were Amy’s expectations about America before she actually arrived? Not much.
“I guess I just expected everybody would be nice, and they all have been so far.”
“I absolutely love the fact that I can smile and everyone will say hi. All the girls on the team feel like family,” Cashin said. “They are family to me. I feel like I’ve know them absolutely forever.”
“I am a very very picky eater and the food all tasted a little bit different here. We eat the same sorts of food but it was just made differently and I would taste it and would be like I can’t do this,” she explained.Amy says the biggest adjustment for her, besides being so far away from everyone in Australia was the food.
She had to meet with a nutritionist to set up a meal plan so she was still receiving enough nutrition to run.
But, there is one food she absolutely has fallen in love with while here.
“I never had sweet potatoes until I came to America so that was a life changing moment because now I have it every day basically,” she said.
Since arriving in the United States, Amy has only been home once, this past winter break. She stays in contact with everyone back home with the help of Skype and Facebook.
“I’m pretty shocking with keeping in contact,” she said. “With a few of my friends we’ve written letters to each other, which I like because I love letters.
Now that she has been here for more than 2 years and has experienced all that the U.S. has to offer, Amy says W. Va. is starting to feel more and more like home.
“I can definitely see myself staying here longer than the 5 years that were originally planned.”
For now, Amy is focused on making it to Nationals in the current outdoor track and field season for the steeple chase and distance medley relay.
*Photo credit to Michael Scott and Amy Cashin