A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching as the Statesman’s Pam LeBlanc fulfilled a lifelong fantasy. She learned how to pole vault.
Pole vaulting isn’t really on the top of the list for most people, probably because it’s a little more obscure than skydiving or bungee jumping or any of the other things people aspire to do before they die, but Pam always wanted to try. Plus, the Olympics are coming up and she wanted to know what it takes to compete in an event like this.
I also used this opportunity to “raise the bar” on my end. I haven’t shot much video since I started freelancing, but this time I took my video camera with me. My DSLRs don’t shoot video, so I use a little Canon Vixia HF S21. It’s a nice little camera, but I can’t change lenses or do anything too fancy with it. I thought I’d shoot a little bit and have something to play with in Premiere.
The Statesman’s video guru, Tina Phan, met us during the assignment, but she got a call and had to run to another assignment, as often happens. It was a good thing I had my video camera. Tina asked me to keep shooting and send her some b-roll, so I put my video camera on a tripod, hit record and kept shooting stills.
It challenged me to get back in to that roll of thinking about both stills and video for the same assignment. I hadn’t done that since I was a staffer.
The whole experience began at the Lone Star Pole Vaulting facility in New Braunfels. We started out watching teenagers fly 10 feet or more through the air at the end of a pole.
After observing for a while, head coach Kris Allison showed Pam an instructional video and went over the basic principles and form for pole vaulting.
The obvious question while watching the video was, “what happens if the pole breaks?” A parent happened to have a video of her son during a meet when his pole broke. He spun upside down in the air and fortunately landed on the mat, but Allison explained that athletes get injured when they hit their heads on the way down.
Cautionary tales and videos aside, it was time to pole vault. Allison helped Pam choose a pole and they began in the sand pit.
Pam worked her way from vaulting a few inches to learning how to properly land a two and a half foot vault.
Pam mastered the sand pit and it was time for the real thing. She started without a bar to get used to running, placing the pole in the box and landing on a higher surface.
Then it was time to raise the bar. It was first set at just under 5 feet, and at her peak she cleared 5 feet, 6 inches.
She was clearly thrilled with what she had accomplished in one morning. Her exhaustion and exhilaration showed on her face.
Pam and her coach posed for a quick photo as the lesson wrapped up.