Maggie Vaults Over the Moon

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The ‘Missing Ingredient’ Youngsters Can Find On a Pole-Vault Runway


A report says the grit needed to persevere through challenging activities, such as  pole-vaulting, is a missing ingredient in today’s youth. Shown: Alyssa Wheeler, a state champion and nationally ranked vaulter from Wichita, Kan.

Is good old-fashioned grit the missing ingredient in today’s youth?

Yes it is, according to a report on today’s National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.  

In a segment titled, “Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?” reporter Tovia Smith says, “Around the nation, schools are beginning to see grit as key to students’ success — and just as important to teach as reading and math.”

NationalPublicRadioIn the interview, Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “This quality of being able to sustain your passions, and also work really hard at them, over really disappointingly long periods of time, that’s grit. It’s a very, I think, American idea in some ways — really pursuing something against all odds.”


It takes a lot of old-fashioned grit to learn to pole-vault.

Reporter Smith adds, “Experts define grit as persistence, determination and resilience; it’s that je ne sais quoi that drives one kid to practice trumpet or study Spanish for hours — or years — on end, while another quits after the first setback.” Then the reporter asks: Can grit be taught?

According to author Grant Overstake, the answer to that question can be found in a sport where youngsters are learning to face their fears, overcome obstacles, and triumph over gravity.

Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club “I think pole-vaulting is one of the greatest ways for a young person to develop grit,” Overstake says, “because it takes tremendous courage and self-will to keep going higher and higher over a rising crossbar. Grit is a great word to describe what all great and future great pole-vaulters have in abundance.”

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NPR Asks: What’s the Future for Real-Life ‘Maggies’ on America’s Family Farms?

The new teen sports novel "Maggie Vaults Over the Moon" focuses on farm life and harvests in rural Kansas.

“Maggie Vaults Over the Moon” focuses on farm issues in rural Kansas.

What’s the future for the thousands of real-life Maggie Steeles living on family farms? The answer has dramatic implications for the future of rural America.

NationalPublicRadioThe future of family farms is the topic of a recent article posted at written by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, titled, “Future Farms Of America Might Not Include Much Family.”

The article quotes a professor of agricultural economics who says the tradition of passing farms from one generation to the next, for the sake of tradition, has run its course. He disputes the belief that farm parents owe it to their children to reserve a place for them in the farm business. Because, he says, “The other side of that coin is that then your children owe it to you to stay home, even if they don’t want to.” Continue reading