Do you remember day one, four years ago? Do you remember the first time you handed me a pole? Do you remember my first vault?
I remember day one that it was windy and cold. I remember my first pole and its black and yellow stripes. I remember my first jump, the fear, then the thrill and finally the addiction of leaving the ground vault after vault.
That day you handed me a pole was either the best decision you ever made or the worst. That first vault, day one, I was hooked.
Every vaulters story is different, but ever vaulter has the same motivation in common. That is love at first jump. My story began with a team’s need to score points and my high school career ended with the state record and the friendship of a lifetime. But a story is not just about the facts, the heights, the records, or the interviews. The best stories are about the journey.
This is my story and you are all in it. The career of a vaulter is a long journey and thank God for the people who carry you through the parts of the journey where the pole rejects you, drops you flat in a box, or breaks in your hands. Some people are there every moment of that journey and his name is Coach.
So here it is. The first of many attributes that changed my life just by knowing Coach.
You are faithful. Just like the story of every vaulter is different so are the struggles. Although they may be the same in technical difficulty they are vastly different in mentality.
With love for something come goals, expectations and dreams. Those goals differ for each athlete but they drive each athlete to one end goal–success, completion and fulfillment. Often we don’t know what those hopes are we just know we want them.
When days go awry, when the pole becomes like a brick wall, when the bar burns with fire, who stays there watching, encouraging and picking your pole back up?
Who will sit at practice for hours until you get one jump off the ground? Who wipes your pole off with his T-shirt to make sure you don’t slip as the rain pours down? Who has to make you sit down vault after vault so you have some left for tomorrow?
This is faithfulness, not only faithfulness to a sport which an athlete loves, but faithfulness to an athlete who loves the sport.
The true test of this commitment is not when the sport comes easily, but when when an athlete has to ask himself after every practice, why do I vault? When after each practice she walks away not knowing that the sun is indeed shining? When the dream seems only but a dream and nothing more? It is Coach who stays faithful till the end. And not just to the end of practice or a sports season or even a high school career but it the friendship lasts until the end of time.
Coach Mead, thank you for these past four years. For you unfailing support, your commitment for my success, for being Coach. My Coach. My Coach Mead.