Vaulting Into Varsity
It was my second year on the high school track team and it was my junior year when I first got the idea of trying out for the pole vault team. My first year of track I was a sprinter and I ran both the 100 meters and the 200 meters. Throughout the course of my first year as a sprinter, I became tired of the aching knees and constant running during practices. My friend Fausto who was a grade higher than I and started on the varsity pole vault team had always urged me to try pole vaulting. So, after the first year of trying to make the varsity sprint team and failing, I decided to give pole vaulting a try.
When Beaumont high school started practice for the 2015 track and field season we used the old dirt track to run on. I had begun the year sprinting in practice and I wasn’t sure whether I would continue with track that year. After the first week of practicing our head coach, Tedro divided us up into the groups corresponding to which event we would like to do during the meets. He went one by one and asked what we would like to try out for. When he came to me, I paused at first but then told him that I would really like to try out pole vaulting. Lucky for me coach Tedro was the current record holder in pole vaulting for my high school. He said, “It is going to be scary at first but after the first vault you will get used to it.”. I then headed over to the small group of pole vaulters. My friend Fausto was already in the group, so I didn’t really have to make friends with the other pole vaulters. There was a good amount of us trying out for pole vaulting and I was worried I would not qualify for the varsity team which consisted of the top three vaulters who have cleared a ten-foot vault.
Once each student chose their group the coaches separated us and assigned a coach to help us with that event. The pole vaulting coach was coach Austin, she had been a pole vaulter in college and was good. after she introduced her self to the group she took us down to the newer stadium down below because the older track didn’t have pole vaulting runway. The trip down to the stadium is about an eight-minute walk and down a whole bunch of stairs. When we finally got to the stadium Austin had us pick a pole that was the correct weight and height. I was so confused on what to do with this long pole, how do I hold it? How do people use this to launch themselves in the air? I had so many questions. Since it was the first-day, coach Austin had us practice just running with the pole in the correct position so we can get the basics down, it was a good practice.
After the firsts two weeks of learning how to properly hold the pole, how to lower the pole into the box, and how to measure our starting distance we began to jump onto the mat. There was quite a lot of downtime usually because there is only one box and can only be used by one person at a time. My friend Fausto and I were messing around with a couple of the other pole vaulters and were trying to vault off the floor which was not a good idea. I was able to vault myself just a little bit into the air but when I did, I had lost where and how close the ground was. When I came down I landed wrong and sprained my ankle. I was devastated, we were just getting to the fun part of the sport and I now had to sit and watch as I recovered. I was out for about a week, I became bored of watching my friends vault and have fun while I sat. When I couldn’t practice, it really made me realize how much I enjoyed the sport.
There were times that there would be a pole vaulter only practice so we would have the whole stadium to ourselves. I remember the first one I went to because it was held during spring break and everyone complained about it being their vacation time, but I didn’t mind. When I showed up there was only my friend Fausto and a few other guys who were on the team, but I didn’t see my coach. After sitting on the mat for about fifteen minutes waiting for our coach to show up we got bored and started jumping on the mats. It was so much fun we were seeing who could do the best backflip, and who can run and jump onto the mat from the floor. This continued for another ten minutes until coach arrived and then it was back to business. I felt like it made the practice so much better and it brought me closer to my friends on the team.
Towards the end of the season, my school hosts a huge meet that has schools from all overcome and compete in the Beaumont Invitational. This is the biggest meet all season and the other schools bring only their best track athletes to compete. Over the course of the season, I was able to vault nine feet and 6 inches, but I needed to clear a ten-foot vault to make the varsity team. My group had been set up near the pole vault lanes underneath an easy up because it was going to be a long day of being in the sun. There was only one other school that had a team of pole vaulters, they set up right beside us. While we were sitting under the easy up coach Austin walked up to us and said “I am starving, I’m going to make a subway run. Does anybody want a sandwich?” instantly everyone on the team raised their hand. It was so nice of her to do that for us because she didn’t have to offer us anything and it really showed how much she cared for the team. Once we all finished eating it was time to begin vaulting. The guys started vaulting first beginning with my friend Fausto. When it was my turn to vault I started off at nine feet. Its good to warm up with a low height and then work your way up to the higher vaults. I was able to complete both the nine-foot and the nine feet six inches on my first try. I was able to rest for a few minutes while my teammates attempted the ten-foot vault. Fausto and another teammate both made the vault and now it was my turn. When pole vaulting you are allowed two attempts to vault the same height, so I used my first try more as a practice run just to get the feel of it. On my second attempt, my heart was beating so fast. Fausto had been standing on the right side of the mat and coach Austin was on the left waiting to see if I would make the vault. Everyone was watching as I started my run up but I had to stay focused and remember all the techniques that I had learned over the season. After I planted my pole in the box I remember trying to throw my legs up towards the sky to get the pole to launch me up over the bar. All I saw was the sky and then I hit the mat and quickly got up to see that the bar was still there. I did it, I made the varsity team and was so happy with my self for never giving up. It had been a long season and I was able to do what I set out to do from the beginning by sticking with it and getting help from my coaches and peers.
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