Maggie Steele is packing her flip-flops and sunscreen for a pole-vaulter’s dream vacation!
The gutsy farm girl from Grain Valley, Kansas, has been invited to share the awards stand at Florida Beach Vault 2013, Saturday July 20th, at one of the most beautiful places in the world — Clearwater Beach!
A copy of the inspirational sports novel Maggie Vaults Over the Moon will be awarded to the top female finishers at the second annual event, sponsored by the Florida Pole Vault Academy. The book’s author, Grant Overstake, a former Miami Herald Sports Writer, would love to be there in person, but Maggie will be making the 1,270-mile trip by herself.
“Maggie can hardly believe she’s going to Florida!” Overstake said. “She keeps pinching herself to see if she’s dreaming. She’s never seen the ocean before, so she’s totally stoked for what promises to be a totally awesome experience. As a Kansas native myself, I remember the first time I saw the the beach, and Maggie will be visiting one of the best.”
In fact, Clearwater Beach was voted Florida’s VERY BEST beach town by USA Today. Stretching roughly three miles long and three blocks wide, its snowy white sand draws about 4 million visitors a year, making it one of the top tourist destinations along the Gulf Coast.
The Florida Beach Vault attracted more than 80 vaulters last year. Vaulters had a clear view of the ocean as they cleared crossbars as high as 17 feet. According to event organizer Bob Leidel, many more vaulters are expected to attend this year, and he’s delighted that one of those newcomers will be Maggie Steele — the most inspirational storybook pole-vaulter in the nation, if not the entire world.
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon tells the story of a fictional farm girl who overcomes tragedy and soars to new heights as a pole-vaulter. The novel has been endorsed by US Olympic vaulters Becky Holliday, Jeremy Scott and Erica Bartolina, and many others — including Coach Leidel — who identify with the book’s inspiring message for young people.
“The Florida Pole Vault Academy is pleased to share Maggie’s inspirational story with vaulters of all ages at the Beach Vault this year,” said Leidel, who coaches many of Florida’s most successful vaulters. “One of the reasons this event was organized is to put elite vaulters side by side with youth athletes to inspire and motivate young vaulters to follow their dreams.”
Asked if she had any questions about her first trip to a beach vault, Maggie said, “How do they keep the sand from getting on the runway?” Good question! Coach Leidel says his officials take extra precautions to make sure sand doesn’t collect on the runway, which could cause athletes to slip and spoil their day at the beach.
“First, we use an elevated runway that sits 8 inches above the sand,” Leidel explained. “This prevents sand from easily blowing or getting kicked onto the runway. Second, we ask athletes to kick the sand off of their shoes as they step up onto the runway before they jump. Lastly, we make sure to bring plenty of brooms and have plenty of volunteers, just in case!”
Registration is Open Until July 17th
Registration is still open for the Florida Beach Vault, until July 17th and Coach Leidel is still seeking sponsors for this event, which is the Academy’s largest fundraiser of the season. Additional copies of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon will be sold at the event, to help raise funds. Please call Coach Leidel at 813.610.5641 to find out how you can get involved.
“Pole-vaulting is exciting and awesome and beautiful, but it can be very dangerous, especially for youngsters who don’t have proper coaching and equipment,” Overstake said. “That’s why it’s good to know there are people like Coach Leidel and the Florida Pole Vault Academy providing proper instruction and equipment, so the sport can continue to be safely enjoyed by real-life Maggie Steeles.
“Maggie plans to have a great time in Florida, but she’s also on a mission of sorts. The Florida Beach Vault is an important event for the future of Florida pole-vaulting, and it deserves everyone’s support.”
About the Photographs
Master professional photographer Jeff Adams of Digital Pixel Photography & Design Studios took hundreds of amazing shots at the Florida Beach Vault 2012 and will be shooting the event again this year. Last year’s photos are available here.
About Coach Bob Leidel
Coach Bob Leidel is a Certified Pole Vault Coach through the National Pole Vault Coaches Association and the Pole Vault Safety Certification Board. Bob was a successful vaulter himself and has been coaching pole vaulters privately for over 5 years. He has been the head coach of the FPVA for two years and has coached multiple high school State Champions, many State Medalists, State Qualifiers, and college level athletes. In addition to pole vault coaching certifications, Bob has numerous strength and conditioning certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and specializes in sport performance enhancement.
About the Florida Pole Vault Academy
The Florida Pole Vault Academy is a non-profit organization sponsored by Leidel Fitness, created to provide free coaching of pole vault safety and proper coaching of pole vault technique to un-coached or under-coached youth, and to provide pole vault equipment to schools in need. In just a few years of existence, the FPVA has reached over 100 pole-vaulters throughout Florida, ranging in age from 11 to 70. Some of the athletes who train with the FPVA included 2012 Class 3A Girls State Champion, 2012 Class 2A Girls State Runner-up, four other 2012 State Medalists, and many state qualifiers.
Camps and Clinics
Florida Pole Vault Academy Pole Vault Camps are a condensed version of our extensive year-round training program. Camps teach proper technique of all phases of the vault independently, spending half a day on each phase. The next camps, for athletes aged 12 and older, will be held August 3-4 and September 7-8, 2013. Space is limited. Beginners are welcome! Call Coach Leidel at 813.610.5641 for more information.
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is an inspiring read for fourth graders to adults. From now through August, the author will make a donation to the Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Sports Hall of Fame for each copy sold at the Watermark store, located at Douglas and Oliver in Wichita, or via the Watermark website.