A good memory is a great quality in an athlete. And when it
comes to pole vaulting, it very well could be the most important.
The Michigan women who take on this daunting event are able to
compress their “to do list” into a few seconds. They
are constantly reminded to do a lot of little things before each
vault: run hard, keep the pole up, plant quickly, drive your knees,
They may be the bravest athletes at the track, too. It takes a
little more than ambition to go upside-down over an aluminum
vaulting box at heights over 10 feet, while holding on to a pole.
Repetition and strength-training are the keys to reaching the top
of the podium, but no one vaulter can do it by herself. Each woman
depends on her coach and teammates to get through each day.
“In high school, I didn’t even have a pole vault
coach, so I learned everything on my own,” sophomore Kelly
Catino said. “But in college, the coaches worked with me all
last year and never gave up on me, even though I redshirted and
didn’t travel with the team. All the hard work paid off
though, because things are starting to click this year and I have
improved a lot.”
But none of them will complain, because they wouldn’t have
it any other way. Constantly training together in such a demanding
event has brought the vaulters closer together.
“The best part of vaulting at Michigan is definitely just
being with the other girls,” sophomore Courtney Doyle said.
“It makes practice every day so much easier.”
Getting a chance to leave the cloudy Michigan weather behind for
a weekend in the sun makes things a little easier, too. The
women’s track team travels south for the majority of the
outdoor season, taking advantage of the better weather.
“I love traveling, meeting people from all over —
it’s great,” sophomore Elizabeth Boyle said. “As
we travel, we become very friendly with all the other vaulters.
There’s a great sense of camaraderie between
Unfortunately, for a Division I athlete, competing can’t
be all fun in the sun. With so many things required for a
successful vault, there are many things that can take a vaulter off
of her game.
“At times pole vault can be so frustrating because it is
so difficult and technical,” Catino said. “But there
are those times when everything just clicks, and you jump higher
and make a new personal record for yourself. That’s when you
become addicted to the sport and all you want to do is jump higher
But the vaulters realize that they’re only one part of a
very competitive team. The women’s track team has won four of
the last five Big Ten Championships, and the pole vaulters are
looking to put up big numbers to help win another Big Ten
“The best part is being part of a team that is so close
and supportive of each other,” Doyle said. “We have so
many amazing athletes, but we realize that being successful is a
group effort and Big Ten Championships are not won by only one
The Wolverines will be enjoying the Atlanta sun this weekend, as
they compete in the Yellow Jacket invitational hosted by Georgia
Apr. 22-24 Penn Relays
May 14-16 Big Ten Outdoor
May 28-29 NCAA Mideast
June 9-12 NCAA
* bold indicates home meet