Just as a new parent may decide to raise their children differently than they were raised, Coach Tom Martin trains his pole vaulters differently than he was trained. “My pole vaulters are often surprised when they learn that when I was in high school, my skills at performing the pole vault were very poor,” explained Tom. “I was never taught much about it and, consequently, was not very good at it.” Thankfully, he also gets different results from the students he trains.
In fact, just this year Tom was named the National High School Pole Vault Coach of the Year by USA Track & Field (USATF). Over his 23-year tenure at Rancho Bernardo High School (RBHS) as a PE teacher and coach, Tom has helped many students discover a passion for pole vaulting, taking at least one vaulter to the state meet for the past 15 years. “Pole vaulting is such a difficult event to learn to do and it is so rewarding for me to see my athletes learn how to pole vault from scratch and then excel at extremely high levels,” said Tom.
Coach Tom is currently the PE department chair at RBHS, a job he loves. “Our staff is outstanding here and we are always looking for better ways to get our students excited about the importance of physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle,” said Tom. “I am so fortunate to be in a job that I look forward to every day.”
Teaching at the high school for so long means that Tom has seen a lot of changes. “The current state of our class sizes has produced some challenging issues and frustration, but I believe that RBHS, overall, is at its best right now,” he explained. Still, he finds working with the students most rewarding. “Track and field is one of the few sports that you can participate in in high school without any previous experience,” said Tom. “We teach you how to learn your chosen event.”
For as many students as Tom has inspired to learn pole vaulting, his inspiration comes from his wife, Theresa. “Every evening gives us a chance to reconnect from our day apart and we will sometimes talk for hours, “described Tom. “She is my best friend and she has helped me be a better person in so many ways – she is the heart and soul of our family.”