The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) have selected April Steiner-Bennett as an Achievement Award recipient. Steiner-Bennett has demonstrated outstanding athletic ability in national, Olympic and international competitions and possesses ethical character. Her successes in amateur competitions and professional career epitomize the achievements and accomplishments desired in any former community college student athlete.
After winning three events (long jump, triple jump, 4x400m) for her high school ’s Arizona 5A (largest) 1998 State Championship, she attended Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC). At PVCC Steiner-Bennett learned to pole vault and won an NJCAA Outdoor National Championship in 1999. Her jump of 12’8” set, at that time, an NJCAA National record. Her efforts at PVCC resulted in a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas where her accomplishments in the pole vault reached greater heights. Before graduating from Arkansas in 2003, Steiner-Bennett was a six time NCAA All-American, including an NCAA 3rd place finish in 2003. At that time, her personal best jump of 14’3” established both University and Southeastern conference records.
Steiner-Bennett’s collegiate successes were harbingers of even greater levels of performance and accomplishment on international stages. In 2004, a jump of 14’8” earned her a spot as an alternate to the Athens Olympics for team USA. She won a silver medal in the 2007 Pan American games with a personal record of 15’2.25”. A silver medal performance at the 2008 Olympic trials earned her a spot on the US Olympic team and a trip to China to represent the USA in the Beijing games. Steiner-Bennett made the event finals and finished 8th in the 2008 Olympics. Succeeding years saw Steiner-Bennett earn spots as an alternate for the 2009 Berlin World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics. In 2011, she competed in her second Pan Am games. She has earned multiple corporate sponsorships and is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Steiner-Bennett is in her fifth year as a middle school teacher. She and husband Cameron were married in 2007 and reside in hometown Mesa, AZ. She has been a frequent visitor and contributor to the track and field program at PVCC, lending time and expertise to young vaulters aspiring to follow in her footsteps. Congrats April!
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