Vaulter Magazine was fortunate enough to be part of this year’s amazing UCS Spirit National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada- the self-proclaimed “best event in track and field” by UCS Spirit. For those of our readers who may not be familiar with this event, it’s an amazing, annual two-day production held at a competition facility where the elite of pole vaulting are able to share their talent and experience with other passionate vaulters. All levels of pole vaulters are welcomed to the Summit. The combination of competition, training and learning opportunities offered over the two days is very exciting and a truly meaningful experience for any athlete.
UCS Spirit writes on their website that “the Summit structure is designed to meet the needs of all ability levels including athlete, coaches, and parent break-out sessions, learn-by-doing instruction and roundtable discussion with the world’s best athletes and coaches. Led by national and regional staff influenced by national men’s and women’s pole vault developmental chairmen, each year we compile the most experienced and extensive staff to bring a truly unique experience for our attendees.” Any vaulter should make it a priority to attend.
From first-hand experience we can tell 2013 was a very successful Summit year and UCS Spirit is proud of their work as well. At www.ucsspirit.com, they have this to say about how successful it was: “This year we were honored to host one of the most exciting and inspiring pole vault summits in recent years. In addition to our own national champions and elite vaulters, we welcomed international competitors; including six Olympic champions, several IAAF world champions and nearly a dozen current national record holders from several continents.”
Among the elite vaulters joining the Summit were 2012 Olympic Champions Renaud Lavillenie and Jenn Suhr, 2008 Olympic Champion Steve Hooker, 2004 Olympic Champion Tim Mack and 2000 Olympic Champions Nick Hysong and Stacy Dragila. Thanks to these phenomenal vaulters, and the Summit staff and volunteers, the event was memorable, crowd-pleasing and well worth all the effort. Not only was there amazing height to be seen, such as Renaud Lavillenie clearing 19’2” in the Men’s Global Elite Competition and having close attempts at 19’5”, but advice from the elite vaulters and their interactions with attendees was wide-spread. The Olympic champions mentioned above all interacted with the attending vaulters in some way- whether it was giving advice, participating in small group discussions, or just signing autographs and meeting fellow athletes. No doubt this was life-changing for vaulters who have been inspired by these fierce competitors.
These encounters in themselves are amazing, but it didn’t stop there. Coaches to the elite athletes were also offering their expertise at the Summit. Rick Suhr, coach and husband to Jenn Suhr, was only one of many coaches holding training sessions for those wanting to learn. Suhr was also alongside his wife giving advice and answering questions. A complete list of coaching staff for the Summit can be found at www.ucsspirit.com as well as a list of specific events and opportunities offered. The years of experience and wealth of knowledge held by the coaching staff alone at this event is worth attending in itself. Vaulters fortunate enough to experience the UCS Spirit National Pole Vault Summit walked away with many wonderful tools to advance their athletic careers.
Our own Vaulter Magazine team feels elated to have been a part of the Summit. It was a sensational hit for our magazine- from the standpoint of an athlete and a pole vault enthusiast. We can’t say enough good things about the time spent there. Here is our first-hand account:
The turnout was more than expected and the pole vault community was just as enthusiastic. The weather was cold with a mist of snow on the trees that made the trip all the more fun. On day one we met the pole vaulting community as they registered for the event and started their process. Many friends, new and old, stopped by the table and chatted for a much needed catch up about the magazine. The magazine handed out well over 1,200 4”x6” magazine cover autograph cards for the fans to have signed by their favorite elite athletes. We had a wonderful chance to meet and speak with the best of the best when it comes to the pole vault world. Renaud Lavillenie, the men’s Olympic gold medalist, and Jenn Suhr, the women’s Olympic gold medalist, were both on hand and continued to impress the crowd that came to meet the champions. The high school and college vaulters that represented at the summit where top notch and had the time of their lives with their favorite elite vaulters running the standards and the event for their height. Overall the event was a huge success with some of the best coaching in the world having a hay day with the future talent of the sport.
More than anything, keeping things safe and focused on giving vaulters a chance to learn vaulting and grow their passion for the sport is what the Summit staff is all about. Not only does it seem that those in attendance feel this goal was reached, but UCS Spirit has reached their goal according to their own standards as well. And there seems to be plans to hold this event for many more years to come. Here is what was said of this year’s experience and plans for the future of the Summit on www.ucsspirit.com: “Focused on advancing a safe, responsible pole vault culture, the National Pole Vault Summit hosted over 1,000 athletes in 57 competitions and saw just that – a responsible vaulting community. The enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and appreciation throughout the weekend bring energy to the Summit and make the tremendous coordinated effort all worth it. It is because of the willingness to learn and excel, and an innate exuberance for the sport that the annual National Pole Vault Summit continues to grow and thrive. We are already looking forward to encourage – engage – educate – inspire next year.”
By: Michelle Walthall – Vaulter Magazine