Fassold discusses her journey to becoming a pole vaulting sensation at Azusa Pacific.
When students attending Azusa Pacific are asked to provide their rationale for choosing APU, they commonly use phrases like “called to APU” or “led to APU” to highlight how their faith has impacted that major decision.
As these students forge ahead in their collegiate endeavors, they often reflect on how their calling to attend a little private Christian college has given them a unique purpose. In many cases, they find that their calling gave them the drive they needed to be successful.
This has certainly been the case for APU pole vaulting sensation Amanda Fassold.
Fassold currently holds the record for the highest mark in APU women’s pole vaulting history; she shattered Stephanie McCann’s 20-year record last season when she cleared a height of 13 feet, 3 and ½ inches. She has broken her own record since then, after finishing with a mark of 15 feet, 5 and ½ inches in her meet two weeks ago at Cougar Stadium.
Though her recent success implies that she has been pole vaulting her whole life, she hasn’t. In fact, Fassold didn’t pick up a pole to compete until 2019, her freshman year at APU. After her return from a season-ending ligament tear in her junior year of high school, she felt the desire to try a new event, setting in motion her college decision.
“I wanted to pole vault really, really bad,” said Fassold. “I felt like I was being called to it.”
At Glencoe High School in the small town of Hillsboro, Ore., Fassold was a recognized sprinter and long jumper. In her senior season at Glenco, she finished ninth in the long jump at the 6A Oregon State Championship meet. Her abilities got the attention of local NCAA Division I programs, such as Oregon and Oregon State, among other universities. However, Fassold knew that she was being led in a different direction.
“Out of the schools that I was talking to, the only coaches that were open to allowing me to pole vault and give me a chance were APU’s,” said Fassold.
The opportunity to prove herself as a pole vaulter sealed the deal and Fassold left Oregon to become a Cougar.
Fassold was quick to find out that she was a natural. In 2019, she finished ninth in the NCAA DII Outdoor Championships and fifth in the PacWest. The rising star cited her history as a gymnast as the main reason she initially took so well to pole vaulting.
“A lot of pole vaulters do have gymnastics backgrounds,” said Fassold. “I was in gymnastics four to five days a week.”
Coaches and teammates played an integral role in her growth thereafter. The mentorship of Sara Wagenveld, who is an APU pole vault veteran, helped Fassold master her craft.
“She is very determined in everything she does,” said Wagenveld about her teammate. “Her attitude and her hard work have remained consistent ever since she stepped foot on APU’s track.”
When she was shelved with a knee injury before the NCAA Championships after her stellar sophomore campaign, it was her work ethic and determination that allowed her to return this season better than ever. In the opening meet of her third year with the program, not only did she break her own record, but she also qualified for the outdoor Nationals for a third consecutive year.
The best is still to come for Fassold. She will finish her undergraduate program early and graduate this spring, but she plans on staying at APU to get her Masters of Business Administration and continue competing. If she keeps improving at her current pace, a multitude of track and field coaches have told her she has the potential to reach professional pole vaulting status. The prospect of competing after college excites Fassold, but that decision is still a long way off.
For now, Fassold is focused on completing her degree and helping take her team to new heights this outdoor season. Her goal is to have all four members of her team qualify for nationals and to continue breaking records.
“We want to do it all together and glorify God through it,” said Fassold.
Fassold’s desire to glorify God through pole vaulting led her to APU and continues to be the driving force behind her success. For Fassold, having Christ at the center is the most important part of what she does.