SCW pole vaulter reaches new heights

I am spending my 13th summer in Logan, Utah, participating in the Summer Citizen program through Utah State University.

More than 700 participants take classes, attend lectures, concerts and plays, but also keep physically active in a variety of ways.

The schedule for the summer has included organized groups for:

• Flexibility and strengthening for seniors;

• Zumba gold (a dance fitness class for seniors, so much fun it is sometimes called a party);

• Pickleball (a hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis);

• Water aerobics;

• Ballroom dance;

• T’ai Chi.

Added to that are continuing opportunities for golf, tennis, swimming, walking, hiking and much more. (My husband, Ron, is out leading one of his weekly 4 to 5 hour hikes as I write this.)

It was in the water aerobics class I take that I heard Sandy Hinkes of Sun City West telling proudly of her husband Tom having recently won a gold medal in pole vaulting. I asked for the details and Tom supplied the following:

“My wife, Sandy and I, took a brief side trip from our summer stay in Logan, Utah, to attend the Outdoor National Masters USA Track & Field Meet in Olathe, Kan., during the week of July 11-14 to compete in the pole vault competition in the 80-84 age group.”

This year, he continued his gold-medal ways with a first-place win at a height of 2.20 meters (7 feet, 2 1/4 inches) He currently has recorded the highest vault for his age group this year at 2.31 meters (7-6).

After pole vaulting in high school and college, Tom took a 25-year break raising family before competing in Masters competition. He has been pole vaulting for almost 40 years and together with Sandy they have traveled to many local track and USA National meets and internationally for The World Veteran Games in England, Japan, Italy, South Africa and two in the USA.  Tom brought his pole vault skills with him from Argyle, Wis., 12 years ago to Sun City West, along with his desire to continue vaulting for “at least one more year.”

He has been fortunate to practice with Sky Athletics and the Puma Track Club at Paradise Valley and Glendale Community Colleges, respectively, in Arizona and this summer with the Jump-It Pole Vault Club in Logan. Tom practices with other Master pole vaulters and high school athletes.

Tom is the treasurer of the Sun City West Yoga Club and attributes a great part of his success to his years of doing yoga exercises that help to keep his body flexible and the strength training provided through the Sun City West recreation facilities.

Congratulations, Tom!  What a wonderful example how keeping physically active through our senior years can not only keep us healthy and in shape, but also add meaning and enjoyment, and even gold medals to our lives.

Keep it up!



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