“Welcome to flying school!”
The energy and passion is striking, as coach Tim St. Lawrence of the Hudson Valley Flying Circus Pole Vault Club yells out to one of his several athletes after completing a jump.
Situated on the corner of two slim country roads in Warwick, the facility is essentially an old dairy barn with a second floor loft just high enough to pole vault safely — yet St. Lawrence has transformed the place into a pole vault haven.
“At first we thought, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me, this isn’t a pole vault camp,’ ” recalled two-time New York state pole vault champion Jordan Yamoah of his thoughts when he and a teammate first saw the building from outside. “But we stuck with it and realized it is just a great atmosphere.”
An official Olympic event since 1896, pole vaulting has experienced a recent explosion of success in the mid-Hudson Valley. Three local athletes have won a combined five New York state titles in the last two years. All three have trained at the club, along with multiple other vaulters from local high schools.
Yamoah, a 2011 graduate of Arlington High School, won both the indoor and outdoor pole vault state championships in 2011, and teammate Stefan Buechele took both honors for Arlington again in 2012. Red Hook’s Grace Weisbecker also won the girls small school state pole vault title in 2012.
“I love it there. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them,” said Weisbecker, a rising senior.
St. Lawrence co-founded the Flying Circus, along with former Monroe-Woodbury coach Hugh Cauthers, after retiring from his 35-year tenure as Warwick High School’s track and field coach five years ago. Combined, the pair has coached 83 state pole vault champions and 33 All-Americans in the last 35 years.
“We decided there was a need to help kids in the area stay safe and get some technical advice, so we started this pole vault academy” said St. Lawrence.
by: Ben Hoyes