FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame pole vaulter Kevin Schipper has already accomplished plenty in his college career.
The senior track athlete captured his sixth straight Big East pole vault title last weekend and has a spot in the NCAA East Regional meet in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 24-26.
But the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Bishop Dwenger graduate still has another goal. He wants to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials and will vault in the Grand Valley Last Chance meet today and Saturday in Allendale, Mich., to try and reach that goal.
Vaulters need to clear 5.70 meters (18 feet, 8 1/4 inches) to automatically qualify or 5.50 (18 feet) to have a provisional spot in the trials that run June 22 to July 1 in Eugene, Ore.
“I want to take advantage of every single meet,” said Schipper, a Leo native. “I don’t want regrets, saying, ‘I wish I would have gone to that meet.’ I try to enjoy every single one of them, and if I don’t make that height I need, I’m still going to be happy because I tried my best. That’s what is really important.”
Schipper has made the most of his senior year. He set personal bests this season in indoor and outdoor vaulting, clearing 5.45 (17-10 1/2 ) indoors and 5.4 (17-8 1/2 ) outdoors. Schipper was one of six individual men’s winners for the Irish when they captured the men’s indoor Big East title with 153 points last Sunday at Tampa, Fla. Schipper won the vault by clearing 5.25 (17-2 3/4 ).
The Big East title gave Schipper the last three indoor and last three outdoor conference vaulting championships. It also kept the family’s Big East dominance going as his older brother Matt won two indoor and one outdoor league title.
The Schippers have won nine of the last 10 Big East indoor and outdoor pole vault championships.
“It’s awesome and exciting every single time (I win a Big East title),” said Kevin, who will work in finance and accounting for Navistar International in Chicago after he graduates. “I’ve been really lucky to be able to do it six times.”
Kevin is the middle child of nine siblings. He has three older brothers, an older sister and four younger brothers. Their parents, Donald and Janet, are gymnastics coaches at Summit Academy of Gymnastics.
The oldest and second-oldest sons, Andrew and Ryan, were Division III All-American vaulters at Rose-Hulman, and Matt qualified for nationals at Notre Dame. Kevin said his sister, Angela, who is the second-oldest child, pole vaulted for a while.
David, who is the sixth-oldest child, is a freshman vaulter at Notre Dame. The three youngest sons are Jared, Vincent and Alex.
Kevin said the friendly sibling rivalry helps him strive to do better, and his brother and Notre Dame teammate, David, agrees.
“I did tell him I was going to beat him at the beginning of this year, but that didn’t happen because he pretty much took off this year,” said David, who was sidelined by a heel injury two weeks before the Big East meet. “It’s always good to be chasing someone to do your best. He’s done really well this year.”
By Tony Krausz