Our featured high school this month is Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona- a school which has no lack of community support or talent. Pole Vault Coach Jeff Guy says, “Pole vaulting is very popular at Desert Vista. We have 300 athletes come out for track and field and we average over 40 Pole Vaulters each year. The Desert Vista boys’ track and field team was the National Champions in 2007, 2008 and 2009.”
Coach Guy is not alone with the Desert Vista vaulters. “We have 3 pole vault coaches including myself,” he says. Having 3 pole vault coaches is a main reason Coach Guy believes their vault program stands out. When asked about what makes them different he replies, “Having 3 coaches is self-explanatory. Shea Kearney, Grigore Key and I strive to make each athlete better than ourselves.” The results show that these words are spoken very true from Coach Guy (as we will prove below). He and the rest of the staff at Desert Vista really do want their athletes to succeed beyond their own accomplishments and it is very impressive.
And he certainly has the experience to reach the goal of getting his athletes to that potential. “I have been coaching since 1985 beginning with a park and recreation Track class for 6 to 8 year olds,” Coach Guys says, “I then moved on to junior high coaching the pole vault. I coached at the high school level in Montana for 4 years before moving back down to Arizona. I Coached at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe for 9 years, then moved over to Desert Vista High School, where I have been the last 9 years. I have coached 24 state champions and 11 runner-ups in the pole vault. I was awarded National High School Coach of the Year for 2001 and 2011- the only coach to be awarded two different years.”
“Shea Kearney, 5.40m vaulter, trains with me and is one of the 3 pole vault coaches,” Coach Guy brags. Coach Kearney is a Phoenix native and Desert Vista alumni with an impressive athletic profile. Grigore Key is newer to Desert Vista and is in his 2nd year with the school. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and vaulted at the college level. We agree with Coach Guy when he says having 3 coaches creates an advantage. All this experience combined can’t help but create a wonderful team.
Parent help goes a long way at DVHS also. Coach Guy adds, “We have an outstanding Parent Booster program at Desert Vista.” And, according to Coach Guy, Desert Vista High School is very supportive of the athletes who Vault for the home of the Thunder.
Along with talented coaching and parent help, equipment goes a long way to creating a successful pole vault team as well. “We have 2 pole vault pits and 4 runways available,” says Coach Guy. “We incorporate gymnastics- including high bar, rings, rope, parallel bars and trapeze bar. We do a lot of resistance band and med ball work.”
The Thunder vaulters take advantage of every training opportunity as well. They waste no time perfecting their jumps. Taking advantage of training opportunities includes attending camps and clubs in the summer and off-season. “I have a pole vault club called Ultimate High TC which averages about 30 vaulters in the off-season,” says Coach Guy. “We are part of Kiss the Sky Pole Vault Camp held in the summer outside of Payson, Arizona. It is a pole vault emersion camp that includes technique, training, psychology, nutrition and fun. Check out Skyathletics.com.”
Talented vaulters to stand out in the group of Thunder vaulters are Scott Marshall and Vanessa Davis- the highest PR athletes on the team. Coach Guys says, “Scott Marshall vaulted 15’6” last year as a junior and Vanessa Davis broke the freshmen state record last year at 12’0.25”.” Those are definitely impressive heights.
Excitement has not been in short supply for Coach Guy and his vaulters over the years either. Scott Marshall and Vanessa Davis are in good company with other high vaulters taught by Coach Guy. He says, “In 2010 Desert Vista had 5 girls clear 12’1” or higher in the same year. Atascadero, California had 3 girls clear 12′, but no other high school before this had so many.” We also learned of even more amazing heights gained by the Thunder vaulters. Coach Guy also let us know of some other very impressive vaulters he has had on his team: “Shaylah Simpson- 13’4”, Arizona State University (state record), Heather Arseneau- 13′, Arizona State University, Courtney Reginato- 12’3”, UCLA, Emily Heisler- 12’1”, University of New Mexico, Kylie Harmon- 12’1”, University of Oregon.” And the excitement does not stop there. “We had 6 girls place in the top 8 in the pole vault,” says Coach Guy. “Since then Arizona has made it a rule that each school can only have 4 entries in each event regardless of performance. I also have coached 20 high school boys over 15′.”
One key philosophy of the Desert Vista vault team may be at the core of their success. They don’t necessarily see putting winning as a top priority when training. Coach Guys tells us, “We never set a goal to be state champions etc. We focus on becoming better than ourselves and improving in all areas. Placing high is a byproduct of our program.”
On the subject of team philosophy, and lessons learned through training, Coach Guy adds, “All of our vaulters experience the lessons of life. They reflect the relationships between meaningful preparation, conceptualization, work and rest, satisfaction and luck, the law of averages, educated guesses and conquering fears and confronting problems and making adjustments.”
It is not only about titles with Desert Vista High School, it is about setting goals for yourself as an athlete and reaching those goals- then letting that success shine through with height that excels over the competition. Well done Desert Vista.
By: Michelle Walthall – Vaulter Magazine