NORMAL — Eric Gordon knows how important a good coach is to an athlete, so much so he wants to become a coach.
When it came time for the Normal Community West High School pole vault star to choose a college, he wanted to know with as much certainty as possible who would coach his event.
That has resulted in Gordon committing to sign on Friday with Eastern Illinois University, where Kyle Ellis coaches pole vaulters.
“They have who I think is a really good pole vault coach,” said Gordon, who turned down larger scholarship offers from schools that use a series of graduate assistants to coach pole vaulters.
“I’ve talked with him numerous times. I feel very confident in him. I feel like he knows his stuff. I feel he can get me to the next level as far as being competitive in the collegiate environment, especially Division I.”
Gordon’s career best of 16 feet, 2.75 inches indoors is tied for eighth in the nation this year. His outdoor school record of 15-7 ties the third best mark in Pantagraph area history.
Gordon, whose mother Amanda graduated from EIU, plans to major in education.
“He’ll make an excellent teacher and coach someday,” said Steve Destri, who has coached Gordon in cross country and track. “I knew that about him at a pretty young age. As a result he looks at the sport a little bit differently than most athletes. He’s like an assistant coach.”
Gordon chose EIU after also considering Central Michigan, Illinois State, Memphis and Olivet Nazarene. He will train with 17-8 vaulter Mick Viken, who will be a junior next year.
“He’s a hard worker and I feel like he would be a good training partner as far as being in the weight room with him every day and being with him on the runway every day,” Gordon said.
Gordon placed third in the Class 3A state meet last year when his best was 15-0. He was 12th as a sophomore when his best was 14-0. He is a member of Normal’s Flying Dragons Pole Vault Club.
“To have the facilities that the Flying Dragons provide I feel like is the stepping stone to what got me to being an elite high school pole vaulter,” Gordon said. “I thank them for that.”
By Randy Sharer | firstname.lastname@example.org
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