Bumgardner was born in 1967 in Platteville, Wisconsin. She competed as a heptathlete at the University of Northern Iowa. She was a team captain and senior-year team MVP under Panther coach LeaAnn Shaddox. Her athletic career wasn’t over when Bumgardner graduated from UNI in 1989. With a degree in physical education, Bumgardner became an assistant track coach for the Montana State Bobcats while pursuing a master’s degree in physical education.
Bumdardner has vaulted higher than her American record. Her American master’s record indoors is one inch higher, at 11 feet 3 1/2 inches. She continues to teach physical education at Swanson Elementary School and is pursuing a Ph.D. in social psychology. Meanwhile, she still burns to compete. Although, what sport she may tackle next is a mystery, even to her. “I like being an athlete,” Bumgardner says. “It’s more fun being an athlete than a coach. I don’t know what the next challenge might be. Maybe boxing, I don’t know.”
by: Alex O’Meara