18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sun in December

           It’s been awhile since I took the time to post something on this site. I do feel a little guilty about it. Honestly, I have been writing, and most of the articles or blogs, or whatever the proper terminology is to describe such, were started with the intention of being posted to this site. But as the words crept down the page they continued to be borderline insulting to others, and sometimes too negative or personal. After rereading, editing and revising I decided not to post any of them. I tried changing them for the better, but I couldn’t force myself to remove large pieces of material, and I enjoyed the writing too much to destroy it. So I think this is something like attempt number four in the past month. There have been a lot of great things worth talking about.  
            Living in California is pretty awesome when it comes to weather. I’ve pole vaulted outdoors twice this month, in the warm sun, with a tailwind, both times being in my backyard. Earlier in the month 2-time USA Champion Mark Hollis came out, and we had a few short days to train together and put on a pole vault clinic. It is always inspiring to hang around Mark. He is such a powerful athlete, and a positive person. A few years back, him, Daniel Ryland and I had one of my favorite training camps of my career down in Jonesboro Arkansas spending priceless time at legendary Bell Athletics. Pole vaulting with a National Champion on my homemade runway was a blast, and being able to do it outdoors under the sun in December was like icing on the cake.
            NCAA All-American Derick Hinch grew up in this area and sometimes when he comes home for a holiday we get the chance to jump together. He was able to come over after Christmas and get a vault session in. We were graced with another sunny day and tail wind in December. It was still a little brisk for Derick having the luxury of 80+ degree weather where he lives in Arizona, but we still managed to have a lot of fun and even make some “Christmas bars”.
            Training has been different than in the past year. I must admit that I’ve been taking more risk, as I feel that I don’t have a whole lot to lose anymore. Also I changed therapy for my back, and it feels stronger and healthier than it has in two years. It has allowed me to readopt a handful of my old favorite training methods, and the change in routine has been well appreciated. I feel extremely strong, but not as fast as I’d like. It is still very early in the year, and the old legs are always fatigued, so I’m trying not too dwell on it.  My work has been inconsistent and it’s frustrating because I need the money, but it also allows me a great deal of free time to train.
            The indoor season is about to start and the only competition I really cared about was Reno (I just reread this, and I take that back. I am very much looking forward to the Simplot Games). Unfortunately this year I didn’t get the invite to Reno. They make a set of criteria to justify having to choose and fund a small group of vaulters out of such a large group of great vaulters in the US. A difficult task, that many would not be able to handle. I didn’t make the cut this year. So I’m still trying to decide if I will attend. It’s a shame because I have only missed one since 1998 and its probably going to be a very memorable Summit, but I’ve got a lot going on, and I can’t justify paying $120 registration fee to pole vault, not to mention travel costs. I’ve been offered some help by some nice people. But there is some underlying principle that still itches in the back of my throat, tied for 11th in the US in 2012, and having to pay people to compete. It just doesn’t sit right. It’s not just the Summit, but all over the US, always a registration fee, always out of your own pocket. Our sport is really a mess. I wonder how much the USA’s 11th ranked NFL, Tennis, Golf, NBA, Soccer, MLB, Hockey, Snowboarder, Skier, NASCAR Driver, or even Bowler pay to compete? Probably zero, and if so some sponsor likely handles it. Even more likely, they are the ones being paid, seems logical in a business sense.
            Anyway, that’s not productive talk, those discussions drag on and on, and tend to go nowhere.
            Like I said I have a lot going on outside of pole vault and my priorities have definitely shifted. Engaged, with a son on the way, the issues surrounding pole vault suddenly seem less and less critical. I can see how so many people move on, and leave our great sport behind. I’m not going to move on, or give up on myself and our upcoming stars. I intend to continue to put forth an effort, in any way I am capable, to helping make there careers a success and keeping this remarkable sport alive. To be continued…..


  1. Keep up the positives and good spirits Paul. Continue to make this year full of steps in the right direction. You have always been a good inspiration to me, and I plan on making the most of my last year in the NCAA and graduate school. If you ever want to toss some ideas around about American pole vault, jumping, sponsors, or anything related, I'm always up for it.