There were times last year when Oklahoma Sooners pole vaulter Tanner Williams thought about giving up track and field.
Injuries that had dated back to his prep career at Plainview High School where he was a two-time state champion began to take a physical and mental toll.
Stress fractures had plagued Williams in high school but he persevered through the pain and earned his way onto to the University of Oklahoma track and field team.
Williams made it through his freshman season at OU healthy but the pain began to resurface his sophomore year and it hit him hard his junior season.
Battling a groin injury and a stress fracture in his back at the same time, Williams competed through the physical pain, even though it was overbearing at times. His season best was 16-3 and he had a lot of “No Heights.”
“My back was hurting really bad,” he said. “The injuries made it really difficult to jump. It was a very sharp pain. It going to the point where it was difficult for me to turn over and get out of bed.”
Williams knew that OU had a dedicated and talented medical staff that offer him with physical therapy and other methods of medical treatment to get him healthy for his senior season, but mentally, he began to think about life beyond pole vaulting.
“After last year, I started to get burned out,” Williams said. “I was tired of being an athlete.”
The career path for the 2012 Plainview graduate was lining up. The general managment major did a summer internship with Enterprise Holdings and already had a job opportunity as a management consultant awaiting him.
“I was taking consulting classes and really enjoyed it,” he said.
So, Williams was faced with a hard decision: Should he focus on his career in management? Or, should he return to OU for for his senior season with the Sooners track and field team?
“I wasn’t sure if pole vaulting won’t take me as far,” he said. “There is no telling what I would do. And a professional career in pole vaulting is not likely due to my career opportunities and me not jumping high enough.”
Williams made mental notes about the pros and cons of the continued pursuit of track and field or a professional management career.
At least for this year, track and field, it is.