Jenn and Rick Suhr received quite a welcome when they attended the UCS Spirit National Pole Vaulting Festival in Reno last weekend.
“It was like being a rock star when I walked in there with Jenn,” Rick Suhr said. “People just came running up to her. I went to go get a coffee and when I came back there must have been about 30 people around her waiting to get her autograph.”
Attention comes with the territory when you win an Olympic gold medal as Jenn Suhr did in August, but she wasn’t the only person in the family the 2,000 pole vaulters, coaches and enthusiasts recognized.
Rick Suhr, her husband and coach, was named the national coach of the year in the open division for the second straight year.
“It’s nice to be recognized for all that Jenn and I have gone through and everything I’ve gone through even before that,” said Rick Suhr, who opened a pole-vaulting facility behind his Riga home in 1997 and has coached 18 national champions at the high school, college and professional level.
His most successful athlete is Jenn, a former basketball standout at Roberts Wesleyan College, whom he began coaching in 2004 and won the U.S. indoor championship 10 months later in 2005. She has won 11 U.S. national titles and earned a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing before taking gold in London. She has been the top-ranked women’s pole vaulter in the world the past two years and said her consistent success played a large role in her husband’s most recent award.
“It was nice that they recognized that and how much goes into his coaching,” Jenn Suhr said. “He was very grateful and gracious.”
Rick Suhr addressed the summit and is quite proud of the honor.
“It looks like an Emmy,” he said.
Now he and Jenn are turning their focus to the upcoming indoor season which begins with the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Feb. 2.