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I started pole-vaulting my freshman year of high school. I had been a gymnast for 10 years, so pole-vaulting came rather easy to me, thanks to my strength, flexibility, and core strength. But being a gymnast had made me fearful, which made pole-vaulting harder for me, as I started getting better and able to jump higher. Not only did fear and my thoughts start showing up, but I have had ongoing issues with trusting coaches.
Track season started out pretty good freshman year; I wasn’t scared about anything at the start. I was getting used to how to hold the pole and run with it. But then as season went on and I started actually vaulting; that old gymnastics fear came back. I started doing all these (really annoying) rituals. I had a little routine I would have to do before I felt comfortable. A lot of athletes have those little things they do, that make them feel comfortable too, but for me this was distracting, and took away my concentration. It didn’t take him long to figure me out.
My coach Jim Vento, a former pole-vaulter, was a devoted coach. He knew right away at the start of season how capable I was of doing well, but he also knew my mind would sometimes get the best of me. But somehow he would always manage to push me through it. He would sit down with me a lot and he would ask me how I was feeling. We would talk about what I needed to do better with, what I was doing good with, and even things outside of school that was stressful. I have always been bad at math, and he happened to be a math teacher. (It worked out well.) Sometimes I even got emotional, especially when I starting getting awful shin splints…which turned to stress fractures.
Pole-vaulting has really motivated me in ways that I still am trying to understand, it brought something out in me. I think most of it had to do with Vento. Not only was he a great coach, he was a great person. He would listen to your problems and help you come up with a solution, he would make hilarious jokes during practice and everyone would be literally on the ground laughing. He would do things like bring us Gatorade, and order pizza to be delivered to the track. These were things that he didn’t need to do, but he did. He even took time away from his summer to make a camp for those interested. We had many great times with Vento, and a lot of good memories.
One thing that’s most important to me is he always put us before the sport. When my injuries started getting worse, it was hard for me to do anything. Vento didn’t care about what I could do. He cared about what I could do to help me get better. He always made sure I was doing my shin splint warm ups, that I was icing everyday, and that I was doing the correct workouts so I wouldn’t injure them further. Some days he told me to just go home and rest. You don’t find coaches like Vento often.
I’m getting ready to start track season next week. It’s been a hard month for me, finding out that my coach is no longer coaching. I wasn’t sure at first when I got the news that I even wanted to do it anymore. I had put all my trust into Vento, (which was hard for me to do) and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to transfer that trust into another coach. I’m not blaming him for deciding not to coach this year, I understand he has so much on his slate already. (Being a teacher and a new father.) I haven’t really gotten the opportunity to thank him for all of his hard work and dedication he has put forth. He has gone out of his way, so many times, it was greatly appreciated, and will be missed by everyone on the team.





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