18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I shouldn't have to write letters like this. What the hell is wrong with USA track and field. Its like they don't want people to be good. You pay to be a member, you pay to compete, you pay to post a mark for nationals, you pay too declare for nationals. What a joke. A bunch of broke athletes being forced to pay for a national meet, and there own travel both ways unless they are in the top 25% of the field. Anyway, I had to write this letter today and I'm just pissed out how difficult they make things. I think most of the background of what's going on is in the letter so you should get all caught up. Those of you planning on attending these meets, don't fret, if we have too, we'll pay these assholes. The marks will count. They are trying to say that we need a paid official with at least 2 years of experience and certifications in USATF to sign off on these. Maybe i shouldn't even post this crap but I feel like I should share and I'm pissed, so I 'm going too anyway.

    My name is Paul Litchfield. I was a Coach at Idaho State University for 6 years under the tutelage of Dave Nielsen  and now I am currently coaching and working for Fuzion Athletics. At Idaho State I officiated everything from the long jump to entire Decathlons. My experience as an official is extensive, but the NCAA never required me to take any USATF certification courses and I still did a fantastic job. Jamie Steffen forwarded me your address to try and find a solution for our lack of an official to sign off on the Fuzion Spring Series Meets.
These meets were designed to fill a gap for post-collegiate athletes between the dates posted. After the second week of May there are no competitions for post collegiate athletes until after the US championships. Last chance qualifiers, Conference championships, Regional Championships, and then the NCAA Championships dominate all the time, energy, and resources of track and field in the US for roughly 6 weeks. If you are not in the NCAA, your out of luck. These are the last weeks that athletes have to post qualifying marks for the USA Championships, and they have no place to do it. The US has left these guys out to dry for 6 weeks without meets, turns around expects them to magically post marks, then perform at a World Class level at the US championship and wonders why its not happening. We are willing to take on the burden of some these athletes by taking money out of our own pockets, paying for the meets, and helping them with travel and lodging. These athletes will not be charged to compete. We are doing this to help save Pole Vault and track and field in the US because we love our sport. We do not benefit in anyway, and some of the dates will actually effect our camps (so we will lose money there). We are dropping a lot of money on this, and having to pay an official for 11 competitions is really going to put it over the top, to the point where my boss may not agree to do it ever again. The marks that come out of these meets will be legal and follow every rule to the letter in the USATF handbook. We always did things right at Idaho State University and we do things right here at Fuzion Athletics. These marks need to count for the men and women who will attend and cannot afford to travel the globe to compete.
 Please help us conduct this service.
-Paul Litchfield

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So my girlfriend and I have been catching up on the Narnia films. Point of note, Disney dumped the third film after what I can only assume has to do with box office issues with the second film "Prince Caspian", which if you took the time to watch, was a bit of a let down. So 20th century Fox picked up the rights to "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", and made it better than Disney probably could of anyway. But I'm diverting from the point I'd like to make.
As weird, confusing, and midieval as Narnia is, it has it perks and i find myself envying its inhabitants. Animals talk. Well that's fantastic, when my dog is being a pain in the ass or tries to play dumb, I know he understands me, and we can talk it out. And those dam pigeons that wake me up everyday would know how I really feel about them, and I could explain to them, what a gun is.
Shot by an arrow, or sliced up by a sword? No big deal. There is a little red headed girl running around with a magic potion that can heal all wounds, and she find you, if your her friend. That would be fantastic for an athlete in training. Major injuries and illness tend to spoil training plans again and again.
About to fall out of a castle turret? Do not fear! A Griffin will always be there to gently snatch you out of the air and carry you to safety, maybe even use its massive eagle talons to slam some unlucky fellow in the head who is currently attempting to penetrate your flesh with some barbaric weapon the likes of a battle ax or broadsword. I don't know much about the rescue from ax man, but I must say I have missed the vaulting pit a few times and wouldn't mind some mystical bird grabbing me out of the air before another pleasant experience of smashing into the ground.
Anyway, just saying. Narnia seems alright.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Empty Tank

Wrapping up the indoor season at ISU, preparing for the simplot games, then the following weekend the conference championship at home, moving out, driving 1300 miles then moving in, then the MN PV Showcase which proved to be an insane amount of prep and tear down, and now starting the HS outdoor track season week days, a new batch of weekend camps, helping out with pole rentals, all that in the same 4 week span. I'm out of gas. I beyond out of gas. My body is barely running on fumes. 
After giving in and setting projects aside, I slept for 12 hours last night. Only to wake feeling no relief, but more fatigue. Operating on about 1 cylinder for only a few hours today, I was ready to crash again. The MN showcase was a blast and i really feel like we were able to put on something very special. But to be honest I was looking forward to its conclusion to free up my time and energy so that I could get started with a training program worthy of moving across the country. After a light workout on Sunday I have not had the time or energy to train again, and that "light workout" made me so incredibly sore. Stricken with guilt I find myself looking to a full plate of projects and commitments tomorrow that start at 7am, and probably finish at 9pm, but are necessary for my financial survival. My back is unhappy with the abuse it has taken over the past 4 weeks, and the aches and pains drain my energy like a workout all its own. After being slapped around this weekend by poles so small I normally wouldn't even pick them up, I'm dying to get fit again. 
Settling in has been hard, and each day i tell myself that things will calm down, and they will. But I'm getting eager and borderline self conscious. I'm 15 pounds lighter than normal and when I see myself in the mirror, I see a distance runner, not a pole vaulter. With a solid training cycle under my belt my confidence will sky rocket. Its time to be more proactive, learn all these dam schedules, and coordinate a program built for me. So tomorrow is day 3 of rest (which drives me insane) and i will use the evening to write up a plan that will take me to Eugene Oregon in June for the US outdoor championships. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Minnesota?

Over the past few months I've been having a similar conversation over and over again. Why Minnesota? People ask. I felt like i did my best to answer that question time after time, but now when I look back, I didn't. There are several great reasons for me to move to Burnsville, MN. After months of debating with myself about it. It just made too much sense on so many levels. Now I'd like to take a moment to explain.
This will be the third time I have sat down and tried to write about this major life move. Each time I've tried to write about it, I've failed. The emotion that comes through proves to be to difficult, the details are overwhelming and almost vast. So please bear with me. I feel like to do everyone involved, on both sides, justice, I would have to write a novel. I don't have the energy for it, this is hard enough, but I feel obligated to try. So i've decided to address as many main points as I can without leaving any important details out, or dragging it on for pages and pages.
I'm trying to heal.
I'm returning from what could have been a career ending injury or batch of injuries, and training outdoors in the cold is not as easy as it once was.  ISU goes outdoors, the second week of Feb. For those of you that don't the area, it has been known to blizzard there, in May. I need to make training as easy on my broken old body as possible. Training indoors year round seemed like a logical solution. The Facility here has everything you need to be a great athlete all in one location. Poles, pits, straightaways, runways, a weight room, and extremely flexible hours. I wish I could have packed up Dave Nielsen and brought him with me, he is beyond amazing as a coach, and a caring human being of the highest caliber. I feel like we've come all this way together and being forced to leave him broke my heart. Now as my eyes well up, I must change pace.

Fuzion Athletics is fantastic. 
Jamie Steffen has put together a company, facility and situation not to profit greatly himself, but to create opportunities for a wide variety of athletes in track and field. Being a post-collegiate vaulter is far more difficult than most people understand, and he strives to fill the large gaps left in peoples lives after college. People who dream bigger. Jamie is the definition of a die hard fan, business man, and heart of gold. He combines those three characteristics in his company to create a potent and unique mix of success that has a positive impact on anyone within range of his grasp. 

I'm broke.
 I'm so helplessly broke. I don't have material things to show for it. I have a life that has been full of friendship, love and adventure. It was worth every penny......that I borrowed. At some point the monster of debt grows to large, and goes from knocking on your door, to kicking it in and trying to devourer your entire existence. Pocatello, ID is a great place to live, full of great people. But you need a full time job to survive there. Pay is low, really low. Working part-time, coaching part-time, and training part-time, just wasn't working out for me. Things will be similar but different out here. And if all goes to plan, the debt monster is getting punched in the mouth next time he comes a knocking. 

Travelling is essential as a post collegiate athlete. 
You need to compete at high caliber meets against high caliber athletes to stay sharp. In Pocatello, there are two major airports nearby you can fly poles out of. Nearby? Well, not really. Salt Lake City, UT airport is two and half hours away by car. That's the closest, and Boise, ID airport is three and half hours away. That is a whole lot of driving and gas money stacked on top of flights, 5 to 7 hours, round trip, extra, every time you travel to compete, if the weather is good. Guess what is 13 miles and about a 20 minute drive from my new apartment? If you guessed the the 15th largest airport in the US, Minneapolis/St. Paul International. You guessed right. That is so dam convenient, I can't even begin to get into it. 

Medical help. 
Out here, I get chiropractic work, massage, and I can see a great doctor, free. Anytime I need. There is even talk of getting me insured. Wow, wouldn't that be amazing. 7 years I've survived without medical insurance. Survived through, pulled muscles, torn muscles, a broken hand, a broken foot, a severe ankle sprain, torn ligaments in my leg, ankle, wrist, and shoulder, a fractured vertebrae, two herniated discs, two bulging discs surrounding those, bacterial infection, concussion, food poisoning, and that stupid flu that killed people but couldn't take me out. The list goes on and on. Having affordable insurance, would be like winning the lottery. 

A smooth transition into the next stage of my life. 
As an athlete, retirement is a word that forces its way out of your mouth about as easy as an old rusty butter knife would slide into your heart, and it feels about the same. But that's something that's creeping up on me pretty quick, and may have already needed to happen. But I'm not satisfied yet, as you all know. Being a part of successful growing company, who's passion is lined parallel to my own, seemed logical not only for the present but for the future. I feel like I can help have a huge positive impact not only in peoples lives but on the entire sport of pole vault nation wide, and eventually world wide. Out here, I see a much larger picture, which shows me how I can make use of my skills and knowledge outside of just being an athlete and coach. 

The woman I love.
Words cannot describe my feelings and dependency for Britney. I'll skip all the other normal cliche's, that would be true no doubt, but I will say this, without her I would be lost. We were getting by in Pocatello, but's that all we were doing, and that's all we could do. Everyday I had to watch her force herself out of bed to go to a job that she despised, wasting her potential working for people with half her brain capacity and skills, and coming home depressed and miserable on a regular basis. I can remember several times where, after talking about her day, I was seconds away from storming out of our house to go on a violent rampage through that place that would have landed me a nice little vacation, in prison. Cheering each other up day after day became necessary to our psychological survival. That's not the way life should be. I knew she deserved better than that, and I knew I could do something about it. The economy is down the toilet. I know your tired of hearing it, but its true. Pocatello is a waste land for employment, and wasn't much better before. Minnesota is in a lot better shape, at least in this area. There is so much more business and opportunity. Some out here may disagree, and I understand why, but go try to make it in Pocatello, and you'll be singing a different tune real quick. 

There are things about the state of Idaho I won't have. 
Rocks to climb, cliffs to jump off of, huge mountains, sweet mountain bike trails, and lots of open space. But I feel like I did a great job of taking advantage of all those things while I had the chance, and won't have the regret of not doing so when I could have. One of my main outdoor outlets is more than fulfilled here however. That is, 37 different disc golf courses, within 30 miles of my apartment. That's no joke, check it out http://www.pdga.com/course_directory/zipcode?filter0=55306 these guys love to disc out here!

Generally I have always attacked people in the past who are prone to say, "the grass is always greener". I can think of a few of them right now, and still value my arguments against them. I have never been that person, and always try to make the best of every place and situation. This move by definition, was a "grass is greener" move. But the future is looking brighter each day I wake up here. I still struggle with what I left behind, but I don't want that to go away. I carry it with me always, and it motivates me to succeed. 

This was the short version...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Minnesota Showcase Event

This is short release I wrote up today about the Minnesota Pole Vault Showcase that I have been heavily involved with putting on. I'm grateful to Jamie for letting be a part of such a great event, and company. This is only the beginning. Check it out.

So the Minnesota Pole Vault Showcase is looking to be an amazing event. What a great way for Elite athletes to wind down the indoor season after the USA Championships. Go to a meet and compete with your friends, not against your friends. The coolest thing about this meet is that everyone who makes a bar makes money.
Rentpoles.com is sponsoring the entire event and owner Jamie Steffen wants to make sure none of these athletes leave empty handed. With my help, we set up a system where each bar has a dollar value on it. Athletes get paid for the highest 3 bars they clear, no matter there final place in the contest. We even threw a few bonus bars in the mix. It’s a great setting for some big jumps, and an opportunity to see some of the US’s best vaulters jump at more bars than they normally would in regular competition. Without the added pressure of competing against the athlete next to you, and not wanting to miss out on a payday by passing a height, that is a potent mix to get these vaulters fired up and focused to jump high!
This thing is going to be exciting. After winning the last 2 US championships in a row, Mark Hollis looks to lead the charge, and get over his first 19 foot bar! Bouncing back and forth between Europe and the US tends to wear on an athlete. With Mark back in the states and rested for the past few weeks, he’s looking to jump a big PR. Here at the Fuzion training center we have made sure to have the equipment and facility primed and ready for it. It is our opinion that if you want a World Class performance, you should have a World Class facility, and that’s what we have. A raised runway with its own lighting, a brand new pole vault pit, a massive High Definition projector replaying jumps, and playing personal bio’s and videos of all athletes between vaults, a DJ, an MC, High Def camera’s shooting the event, a Professional Photographer, a massive crowd made solely of hardcore vault fans, and a field of World Class Vaulters. With other great names like Jacob Pauli, Mary Saxer, Jeff Coover, Shawn Francis, Jenny Soceka, Sam Pribyl, and me, the stage is set for great performances, crazy antics,  and an event that will be worthy of memory for all time. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

24 hours in a metal box with my thoughts.

Made it to Minnesota to train and coach at the Fuzion Athletics training facility. I would have wrote sooner but I am still recovering from the massive dehydration caused by all the tears I shed leaving Pocatello. I have been rooted there for more than 11 and half years now, and walking away was harder than i intended. While I was driving into the vast white mountains and plains of Northern most parts of the US, I had an epiphany. Everyone has always asked me why I don't want to have children. I always thought it was for selfish reasons of time and freedom and commitment. But now I realize that it is because I have enough family already. I don't have friends, I have family, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. And of course, a few distant cousins. I have been so lucky to surround myself with the most amazing people over the years. I would take a bullet for any of them, and love them all dearly. I should have never said goodbye to anyone, because I know I will see you all again. So with that said, I will see you soon. And I will write more about the move, and the new location when I have some more free time. I have been so busy this past week has felt more like a month. But I'm happy to have finally broken the silence.