Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What would we do without Virginia Tech?

First of all I have to say thank goodness for Virginia Tech. And to their pole vault coach Bob Phillips. If it wasn't for them, every meet this season would have been a repeat of last weekend: mediocre meet, long wait, impossible to perform well.

Today I have spent all weekend trying to find meets for next weekend, the only weekend left in the season that Virginia Tech isn't hosting a meet. Our original plan was to go to the Air Force Invitational. It's a great track, and almost like home turf for me (since my heart really resides in CO). The competition would definitely be equally as good as Virginia Tech. So it would be a great chance to get some good bars under my belt. Unfortunately it seems the head coach at Air Force Academy is very hard to get in touch with. So I have no idea if they would let us into the meet or not.

But I had a glimmer of hope when I saw a collegiate meet accepting unattached entries in Albuquerque, on the same track that nationals will be held on in a few short weeks. After lots of phone calls I finally got ahold of one of the meet directors to ask about opening heights. Long story short, there are so few entries they may not even hold the meet. But he said that the University of New Mexico was hosting a collegiate meet the day before and he was sure that they would be happy to let in a few 4.00m jumpers.

It turns out UNM is not so accommodating. There is apparently a waiting list of post collegiate and professional athletes wanting to jump in this meet, and we were way down the list. It was basically a nice way of saying no. (By the way, he never even asked my name. What if he had just turned down Jenn Suhr? He'd never know...). So we're back to Air Force. Which is still a huge unknown.

Luckily there is a meet at Indiana University that accepts open athletes. But we don't know where they will set their opening height yet. It very well could be a repeat of last weekend with the 2+ hour wait.... I'm still holding out hope for Air Force though...

The frustrating part of all of this, is that I am not the only athlete dealing with this situation. Indoor meets try to limit field sizes, I understand that. But unattached athletes really don't take up that much space. It's not like every meet is flooded with unattached entrants. I don't think accepting us is hurting the Virginia Tech meet in any way. And aren't athletes like me and my teammate the future of the sport? How can we get the qualifying marks that we need for nationals and the trials if we can't find quality meets to compete in? (Yes I realize that I just ended that sentence with a preposition. I'm sorry. I'm annoyed. Not fixing it.) This sport should focus more of it's effort on creating situations that foster athlete development. Not make us so frustrated that we leave the sport.

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