Maggie Vaults Over the Moon

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Sport Psychologist Helps Vaulters and Coaches Cope with COVID-19 Shutdown

Sport psychologist ‘Doctor Coach’ Melissa White helps athletes achieve their goals on the runway and in life. She created a video for pole-vault coaches with suggestions on how to help athletes cope with closed runways and broken dreams. (Photo by Megan Zeller/Mile Split)

GREENSBURG, PA. — It’s been a heartbreaking spring for athletes whose sports seasons were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a pole-vault coach with a doctorate in sport psychology has a prescription to help cope with the ongoing crisis.

“Doctor Coach” Melissa White has been making virtual “house calls” to help athletes process their grief and prepare for whatever comes next. Her Performance Edge Consulting practice helps athletes overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, even in a time of historic hardship and uncertainty.

“Anything you can say that can keep your athletes focused and mentally ready for the sport and looking forward to it is going to be the best option for them,” Dr. White says.

When she’s not teaching 6th Grade English at Wendover Middle School, White is the high school and middle school pole-vault and javelin coach at Hempfield Area High School in the Pittsburgh Metro Area in Western Pennsylvania. She also spent this past fall as the mental performance coach for the school’s varsity football team.

White recently posted a video specifically for pole-vault coaches with suggestions on how to help athletes cope with closed runways and broken dreams. The video is free to watch by following this link.

“Our athletes rely on us and depend on us during every training session, practice session and every competition and we need to there for them at this time.” (Photos by Derrick Cleveland)

“We’re dealing with a crazy, unprecedented situation right now,” says White. “There are no books, no guidelines, no articles on how to deal with sport during a worldwide pandemic. We’re all trying to figure this out as we go along. I’ve had a lot of coaches and athletes reach out the me. And I thought I’d share some of what I’ve shared with them with you.

“One of the things that coaches have asked me is, ‘What should I should say to my athletes? I’m just unsure how to approach the situation.’ Several of the coaches have said, ‘I’ve said nothing. I didn’t want to share the wrong thing.’ That’s not the right answer.”

Since the pandemic shut-down, White has met with senior athletes who lost their seasons through virtual online meetings. Each of them have issues to cope with, depending on how committed they were to their sport, and what their future holds once things get back to normal-ish. Continue reading

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Best Story Ever? Check it out!

Pole vault guru Shawn Francis reviews Maggie Vaults Over the Moon on his Team Hoot vlog. “This is an amazing book for anyone. I burned through it in one sitting.”

A true guru in the world of pole vaulting, Shawn Francis says the YA novel, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon might be the sport’s best novel.

“To be 100% honest,” Shawn confessed, “I don’t usually like fiction books, but this book has so much truth in it, not just from pole-vault, but from growing up being a high schooler. I burned through it in one sitting!”

Francis recently reviewed the novel on his popular Team Hoot video blog (vlog).

As a former world-class vaulter, Shawn knows a ton  about the sport and cares deeply about the young people he works with at his Team Hoot instructional camps around the nation, especially those who struggle with the emotional ups and downs of adolescence.

Shawn’s trademark slogan is, “Life is meant to be experienced and curiosity will get you there.” No wonder he’s cheering for Maggie Steele, the novel’s gritty heroine. The grief-stricken high school farm girl finds healing and rises to new heights through pole-vaulting, one of the most daring sports of all.

“I don’t want to ruin it for you, but if you’re a pole vaulter or you’ve been involved in the sport at all, or any sport in general, or if you just found music or something else, this book is about finding something that helps you navigate through life and gives you some purpose and some meaning and just helps you grow into who you are.”

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