The entire pole-vault community is cheering for Mackenzie Van Pelt of the Tailwind Pole Vault Club. Mackenzie, the vaulting farm girl from Beloit, Kan., is facing some pretty tough health issues right now, with a leg injury. But she’s facing her pending surgery with the same gutsy determination as her favorite pole-vaulting heroine, Maggie Steele.
“I don’t know anyone tougher than Mackenzie Van Pelt!” says Tailwind Coach Mark (Doc) Breault. “She practiced and jumped all season with continuing pain and never gave up. She is having surgery and she will be back soon. She inspires me to want to be a better coach and better pole vaulter.”
Maggie Steele, the heroine in Mackenzie’s favorite sports novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, is eager to see Mackenzie back on the runway.
“In fact, I’ve already got her sign painted,” Maggie says. “And I’m waving it right now as Mackenzie begins her comeback. Also, Grandma wanted me to be sure to tell Mackenzie that she’s knowing the highest and best for her as well.”
The sign Maggie is waving from the entire pole-vault community reads, Go Mackenzie! Go!
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mackenzie, here’s a repeat of the story we wrote about Mackenzie’s love for pole-vaulting and Maggie. (Mackenzie will be a freshman at Beloit High School this fall.)
Kansas Farm Girl and Pole-Vaulter is a Real-Life Maggie Steele
Mackenzie Van Pelt is a real-life Maggie Steele in the making:
She’s a farm girl who drives a grain cart during the Kansas wheat harvest, just like Maggie; she’s a livestock showmanship champion, just like Maggie; and, she’s a budding pole-vaulter with the goal of vaulting herself onto her school’s track team this coming spring — just like her favorite fictional pole-vaulter, Maggie Steele.
Since then, she’s read the entire story from cover to cover, several times.
“I read it day and night,” she says. “It’s really inspirational.”
Mackenzie, an eighth-grader at Beloit (Kan.) Jr. Sr. High School, is an inspiration to everyone around her, especially Tailwind Pole Vault Club Coach Mark Breault. “Doc Bro” says she has made remarkable progress since beginning the sport under his instruction this past summer.
“She’s already tied with the highest jumper on the track team and has high hopes of making the team this coming season as a pole-vaulter,” Breault said. “With her determination and passion for pole vaulting, there is no doubt she will be successful.”
In the book, Maggie Steele overcomes many hardships in her quest to vault waaay higher than some critical townsfolk think a girl should go. Mackenzie is fortunate that she has a great coach, an excellent practice facility, a loving family, and many helpful teammates rooting for her.
At Tailwind, everyone cheers when a teammate vaults to a new PR.
In addition to the support of her teammates and coach, Mackenzie says Maggie has really motivated her to do well in vaulting, and in school.
“It’s an inspirational book for all ages,” she says. “A must have.”
We didn’t know there was a real Maggie Steele living on a Kansas farm when we wrote the story, but it’s great to know she’s out there, pole-vaulting herself over the moon.
We say, Go Mackenzie! Go!
We’re looking forward to the “highest and best” for you this coming season!