It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!!!
Myself and my fellow UMass Minutewomen made our way to the URI Sorlein Invitational yesterday morning–our first meet of the season. URI’s newly resurfaced track was ready to finally be broken in with a track meet. We were excited to all be together as a team for the first time.
Due to budgeting, we all hopped into 3 vans and set out for Kingstown, Rhode Island, instead of taking the Peter Pan bus like we have in the past. We squeezed 13 young women and our gear into our 12 person van. For some reason, I didn’t technically have a seat–so I had half of my tush on the bench and the other half, well–let’s just say it was a balancing act for the two hour ride there.
Besides hanging off of my seat for all of the ride, there were other things about this trip that felt different. I wasn’t nervous–AT ALL. I laughed. I joked with some teammates. I didn’t listen to music (probably because my iPod broke). It was nice. I think this really helped set the tone for the meet ahead. I felt relaxed and confident in my abilities. I have plenty of experience. With this being my final year as a collegiate athlete it just felt time to leave it all on the runway. Each meet that passes is a step closer to graduation. It’s time to take all the strength and knowledge I’ve gained these past 4 years and JUMP.
My calm demeanor really helped me in competition. I started at the very comfortable height at 10’4″ and cleared it my first jump of the season. Some old habits crept back in on that one jump, but I laughed it off and went full speed ahead. With a clear head and relaxed body I was able to execute everything we had been working on preseason and intersession. I felt my arms come back, my chest open, and a powerful swing come through. For once it actually felt natural instead of constantly thinking over and over.
Yesterday was more of an experiment. Vaulting over the summer and straight through to the season I had made a lot of progress in my technique. When placed in a competition setting, anything can happen. Adrenaline is a crazy thing. It can make even little girls like me blow through the biggest poles in competition that she can’t even think about touching in practice. Coach Jackson and I had to play around a bit with different poles and we moved the standards a lot. I started on a 12′ 150. Then switched to a 12’6″ 145, a 12’6″ 150, then a 13′ 130–a pole that freaked me out at practice. I was jumping on that with my standards at 75 and 70.
Each jump felt amazing–but the bar still fell. I kept looking to Coach Jackson for what I did wrong. I checked my step each time, but he shook his head and smiled, “Your step is fine, Silvar.” He told me I was doing great and the other coaches assured me that I was getting some great jumps in. I guess I was still doing everything I was supposed to.
I was surprised at my own reaction to the crossbar falling each time. I didn’t get upset like I normally would or let it get to me. I ended up jumping 10’10, which is 8 inches under my personal best, but I still felt successful because of my attitude during competition and taking some great jumps. And Coach Jackson was happy with it–and when he’s happy, I’m happy.
“I could have kept you on the 12′ 150 all day and you would have cleared these heights no problem, but this won’t help you later in the season,” he told me after the meet.
So maybe the height wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I’m very happy with this start to the season and hope to take these lessons with me for future meets.