Teenage pole-vaulting sensations Kassandra (Kassy) Hordal, of Edmonton, Alberta, and Makayla Linebarger, of Reno, Nev., launched themselves into the record books in their respective countries this summer. In the process, Canada’s best and America’s best became best of friends.
Kassy, 13, won the Legions Nationals and set the U16 Canadian record with a vault of 3.3 meters (10-8).
Makayla, 14, won the US Junior Olympic Championship and set the U14 American record at 12 feet 31/2 inches (3.75 m).
Both say they were inspired to go higher and higher by their favorite novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon.
Makayla is a huge Maggie fan, featured inside the book’s front cover of as the story’s No. 1 youth endorser: “Maggie’ is an amazing book with a great message,” she says. “It made me feel like I could accomplish anything!”
Hordal is waaay too active to sit still for just any book, with one exception. She read the 222-page novel in just two days.
“Maggie is a real trooper!’ Kassy said. “She taught me that anything is possible and made me feel that I could jump higher. She also taught me that you just have to keep going sometimes, even if it is hard.”
Maggie Vaults Over the Moon tells the story of Maggie Steele, a gutsy Kansas farm girl who overcomes tragedy and soars to new heights as a pole-vaulter.
Written by Grant Overstake, the novel has been endorsed by US Olympic vaulters and others around the world who identify with the book’s inspiring message for young people, including many inspiring youngsters themselves.
Kassy was an elite gymnast up until two years ago, winning numerous competitions in Canada. But she started not to have fun anymore, so she decided to quit. Her mom, Sheila, suggested pole-vaulting.
The rest of her amazing story is being written in the Canadian record books, and featured on a national TV show in her country.
Kassy submitted a video to CBC’s Cross Country Fun Hunt television program in 2012. She dared host Jordan France to try pole-vaulting with her in Edmonton, showing off some of her amazing gymnastics skills.
The Cross Country Fun Hunt series allows kids to pitch hometown locations as contenders for the “most fun” spot in Canada. A nationwide audience voted, and Kassy won a spot on the show.
Setting her sights even higher, Kassy began following the trajectory of America’s best young vaulter, Linebarger, on the internet.
In July, Kassy and her family drove their camper from Edmonton to Reno, a distance of 2,353 kilometers (1,461 miles), for a week of training with Linebarger and Coach Randy Bryant at Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club.
But there was an awkward moment when Canada’s best and America’s best met each other for the first time.
“The two barely spoke,” Kassy’s mom, Sheila, recalled. “Makayla was standing right in front of her and Kassy was too shy to say ‘Hi.’”
Pole-vaulting is a great international ice-breaker, however. “The club and girls took Kassy in like she was one of them,” mom added. “They made dye shirts and went for training runs together. We even took Makayla para-sailing. It was a blast.”
Coach Bryant was impressed with Kassy’s athletic ability and the coaching she’d received at the Edmonton International Track Club from one of Canada’s top coaches, Cory Choma. “She is an amazing athlete with great desire and focus to be the best she can be – much like Maggie!” Bryant said.
After only three days in Reno, Kassy soared to a new PR, which at that time which was 3.23 meters. Inspired, she returned to Canada for the biggest meets of the season.
After a devastating no-height in Provincials, Kassy regrouped and set another PR in Western Canadians with a vault of 3.3m, and then won U16 nationals with a 3.2m vault.
Kassy has soared so high so fast because she takes a Maggie Steele approach toward pole-vaulting, her coach says.
“When I asked Kassy why she vaults she said, ‘Because its fun!'” Choma said. “So every day at practice, and in competitions, we just clear bars! She starts low and jumps every height. That’s what makes her so good, so young. She just has fun.”
Mom sees a lot more fun in the future, for both Kassy and Makayla.
“I’m hoping in the next ten years that they are in the Olympics together!” she said.
Author Overstake agreed, adding, “I know we’ll see Kassy and Makayla soaring right up there with Maggie, over the Moon!”