Unlike the training set-up he now uses to mentor pupils at his pole vaulting club in Haslet, Texas, Bill Payne got his start jumping over barbed-wire fences and shower curtain rods.

As for using mats for soft landings, he said, “Shoot, we just used dirt. If we were lucky, we’d be able to get somebody’s old mattress and put it out in the back yard.”

From those humble beginnings in Joshua, Texas, Payne developed into the best pole vaulter Baylor’s ever had, a six-time All-American who still holds the school indoor and outdoor records.

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