Following the same astronomical trajectory as her favorite fictional athlete, Maggie Steele, teenage pole-vaulter Makayla Linebarger has launched herself over the moon and into the record books.
Makayla, 13, is now the No. 1 Under-14 girl pole-vaulter in the nation!
Mile Split.US Idaho reports that Linebarger, an eighth grader from Mendive Middle School in Sparks, Nev., tied the national USTAF record in the 13-14 year-old division on Dec. 1, 2012, with a 3.70 vault (12’ 1½”) at the Jackson Open Indoor Meet in Boise, Idaho, equaling a record dating back to 1998. The Sparks Tribune reports that Linebarger is now aiming for the age-group world record of 12-feet 11.5-inches.
We were delighted to learn that Makayla is a huge fan of Maggie Steele, the high-flying heroine in Grant Overstake’s inspiring new teen sports novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon.
“Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is an amazing book with a great message,” Makayla says. “It made me feel like I could accomplish anything through hard work, with many supporters, and great coaching.”
Indeed, hard work, many supporters, and great coaching have helped Linebarger soar just like Maggie. Makayla is coached by Randy Bryant, owner and founder of the Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club in Reno. Many of Bryant’s vaulters are raising the bar at this club, which adheres to the motto, “Learn the Skills; Do the Work; Raise the Bar!”
In the novel, Kansas farm girl Maggie Steele overcomes a family tragedy to soar to new heights as a pole-vaulter. Ironically, Coach Bryant himself grew up vaulting on the flat plains of Kansas, where prevailing southerly tailwinds make great conditions for the sport.
“My greatest memories and accomplishment in pole-vaulting came while growing up in Kansas,” Bryant said. “With the great south winds and warm springs there are few places better than Kansas to grow up vaulting. I had so many role models from Kansas that drew me to the sport, such as former American Record-Holder Jeff Buckingham, Olympian Doug Lytle, Steve Stubblefield, and more. Growing up in Burrton, a small town of less than a 1,000 people, I feel like Maggie could have been related to me!”
Bryant himself won the Kansas State High School Championship; claimed the Junior College National Championship at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College; and soared to All-Conference honors at the University of New Mexico.
As a coach, Bryant has experienced even more success, coaching multiple state champions. He also has guided vaulters to AAU and USATF Jr. Olympic National Champion; NJCAA National Champion; NCAA All-Conference; and, NCAA All-American status.
Echoing the same attitude as the voice of the Coach who helps Maggie soar, Bryant uses positive messages and a down-to-earth attitude to motivate his high-flying athletes at Raise the Bar. He recently distributed several copies of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon to his young teen vaulters, with great results.
“Maggie is a true inspiration to everyone at our club,” Bryant said. “She shows that by focusing on the positive and trusting your coaches, that you can overcome even the biggest tragedies that life throws at us.”
According to the Tribune article, Makayla has aspirations of vaulting for the University of Oregon, and one day representing the United States of America in the Olympic Games, perhaps as early as the 2020. “For now though, her focus is squarely on setting a new world mark for her age.”
Maggie Steele will continue to be an inspirational character Makayla can look up to, even as the nation’s younger vaulters look up to Makayla.
“Maggie shows perseverance and always stays focused on the positives in life,” she said. “All athletes and non-athletes should read Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, no matter what activity they are into. Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down.”