WICHITA, Kan. — Cessna Stadium has seen many thrilling pole-vault moments.
Three-time Olympian Earl Bell set a world record here in 1976, and college and high school athletes routinely soar to new heights at the stadium, site of the fabled Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships.
But ask any of these successful vaulters and they’ll tell you that clearing the crossbar in front of thousands of cheering spectators doesn’t just happen. Whether you’re a real pole vaulter or a fictional vaulter like Maggie Steele in the novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, it takes lots of self-motivation, determination, and great coaching to wow the Cessna Stadium crowd.
Led by Wichita State University Coach Pat Wilson and past and current Shockers, a dedicated group of real-life vaulters had lots of fun and received expert instruction at the Shocker Pole Vault Camp, held June 28-29, at the stadium.
Copies of the novel were awarded to the campers by the Shocker Track Club (STC), a nonprofit organization which provides track coaching to youth, elite and masters athletes, and supports the WSU track and cross-country programs.
“The Shocker Track Club is making a real difference in the sport of track and field in the Greater Wichita area,” said author Grant Overstake, who serves on the club’s board of directors. “The club’s leadership was eager to make sure that these campers received a copy of this inspiring story, which [spoiler alert!] has so much to do with Cessna Stadium, the State Meet, and the Shockers.”
The WSU Track and Field program is featured in the novel when Maggie is recruited to join the team. It’s a huge decision that could change Maggie’s entire life, and the future of her family’s farm. “Of course, you’ll have to read the story to see exactly how it turns out,” Overstake added.
Under Pat Wilson’s direction, the Shockers have developed one of the most successful pole-vaulting programs in the Midwest. Over the past few seasons, Wilson has coached vaulters to five all-conference performances and one individual Missouri Valley Conference title. Wilson himself was an All-MVC vaulter for the Shockers and a member of the 1994 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Championship team.
Overstake served as a volunteer assistant coach this past season, working with decathletes and heptathletes. He says including the Shocker track program in his story was an easy decision to make.
“Maggie captures the competitive spirit of the great student athletes in the Shocker program,” Overstake said. “I know Coach Wilson got a real charge out of being in the book, because it captures the sport of pole vaulting and reminds him of the journey he experienced growing up as an athlete in rural Kansas.”
Overstake added, “Coach Wilson is one of the best coaches you’ll find anywhere. If you’re a vaulter, I hope you’ll consider coming to his next camp. I can’t think of a better setting than Cessna Stadium to get the kind of instruction you need to become truly great.”
Pole Vault Camps and Weekly Instruction
Come out and vault with the Shockers and find out how much fun pole vaulting can be! Register now for the second Shocker Pole Vault Camp session to be held July 12-14. For more information, contact Coach Wilson at 316-708-0579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Shocker Pole Vault Camp, you can learn to vault through the Shocker Track Club youth program. Safe and sound coaching instruction is provided on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 6:15 until 8 p.m. at Cessna Stadium by Denis Fraizer, Vault Coach for Bishop Carroll High School and USD 259. For more information, show up at the designated time, or email Denis at email@example.com.