Lifetime Acheivement Award

Awards Banquet

Dear Evelyn, Jan, and Doug:

Congratulations, again, on your Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Please check out the pictures from last Sunday's banquet by clicking on the following link:

Best regards,

Skip Stolley
Chairman, Southern California Lifetime Acheivement Awards Banquet
Vice President, Southern California Association/ USA Track & Field

What Coaches Make


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, tried to explain the problem with college athletics. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn form someone who decided his best option in life was to be a coach?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about coaches: Those who can't play, are those who coach" To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a coach, be honest. What do you make?"

Having a reputation for honesty and frankness the guest replied, "You want to know what I make?"

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids run thorough 90 minutes of practice and sweat. I make kids turn dreams into reality."

"You want to know what I make?"

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them cooperate.

I make them competitive and respectful.

I make them show all their work in front of hostile crowds and perfect their acts of sportmanship. I make them understand that if you have the will to follow your dreams, should anybody try to judge you by a mistake you made, you must pay no attention because you tried and gave it your all" .

"I make teams from individuals who work together to build success."

He paused and continued.


Then he asked the CEO, "What do you make?"

I hope you enjoyed this and remember that you do make a difference. Thanks for being there for our kids.

Text Box: Thanks to Rich Fox at san Diego State for this email forward


Gill Symposium 2004


On Sat Oct 11, 2005 approximately thirty of the finest US pole vaulters and coaches gathered in Champaign, Illinois for the 1st Gill pole vault symposium. The guests were treated to a facilities tour followed by the results of 6 years of research and development work at the Gill factory.

First, Jan Johnson Gill pole vaulting equipment consultant and national PV Safety Chair, presented a Best Flex review. He explained how the company analyzed its two existing pole systems (Pacer and Sky Pole) in the late 90's, and developed the current user friendly and highly reliable,  Best Flex system.

Next, Dave Hodge owner of Gill sports and former 18'4 vaulter, presented an overview of the companies 2 year FX research and development project.  This project resulted in poles which store and release energy in a more efficient and reliable way.

Then The Gill vaulting pole production crew consisting of, Ralph Paquin, Kenny Hursey, and Bob Prideaux, led the group through the pole production area. Together they have over 100 years of

vaulting pole production experience dating back to the earliest days of Pacer and Sky Pole. They demonstrated each phase of the pole manufacturing process and answered many questions along the way.

Finally, Jeff Watry, Gill vaulting pole products engineer, led a tour of the pole testing and development facilities. His session included explanations and demonstrations of data collection techniques and interpretation. This phase of the symposium was perhaps the most entertaining, and informative of them all.


Vaulting Pole History

Vaulting Pole History - the major players

· · Browning Sky Pole (Herb Jenks & George Moore) 1963 sold to Richards Family in 1968.
· · Cata-Pole begins production (Jenks and Moore) 1968-1974 Produced Black Cata-Pole and Green 550+ both poles feature adjusted sail pieces and new types of fiberglass.
· · Ampro Corp. purchases Cata-Pole in 1974 and begins production of Cata-Pole gold in 1978.
· · Fibersport (Bruce Caldwell) introduces training poles and Maxima III poles in 1978 which are contracted to various manufactures
· · AMF Pacer III begins production 1975 (Jenks & Moore). First pole to feature Spiral inner wrap.
· · Steve Chappell becomes Pacer managing director 1984 the is son in law of George Moore.
· · Sky Pole is sold by Paul Richards in 1986 to Gill T&F Equipment.
· · Pacer is sold to Gill T&F in 1987 at the time it is and remains the biggest selling brand.
· · Richards begins Altius Pole in 1988.
· · UCS introduces the Spirit Vaulting pole in 1988 Steve Chappell is managing director. The pole employs a unidirectional inner wrap. Within two years Spirit becomes a top selling brand world wide.
· · Cata-Pole goes out of business in 1989, equipment is purchased by Larry Rio who produces the Accelerator pole from 1990-1992 and then goes out of business.
· · Cata-Pole brand name is purchased by BSN. Bruce Caldwell becomes Brand Manager.
· · Cata-Pole contracts its pole manufacturing to Altius and other unknown manufactures.
· · Gill Sports introduces the Carbon Pacer in 1989, it becomes an instant success among elite vaulters.
· · David Hodge former world class vaulter becomes CEO at Gill sports in 1991.
· · Gill Sports introduces the Mean Green Sky Pole in 1991 in becomes the number two best selling pole in the country within two years.
· · Gill Sports introduces the Ms. Stic vaulting pole for girls in 1994. It has immediate sales success.
· · Gill researches and develops a normalized system called BEST FLEX for determining the stiffness of vaulting poles. The system is designed to standardize the methodology used to determine vaulting pole stiffness.

** Please note several manufactures including: Sports Beconta, Wonder pole, Thermo Flex and others have also played a role in vaulting pole history. However, they have not been included in this report; since they do not seem to have contributed to current methods of measuring vaulting pole stiffness ratings. In addition none of these brands are in use today.

Women Vaulting

Jan Johnson
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club
6505 Santa Cruz
Atascadero, Ca 93422


To whom it may concern,

RE: Women's Pole Vaulting During the past several years I have been very impressed with the development of women's pole vaulting. Since its first beginnings in the early 90's women have demonstrated a unique ability to participate in this highly rewarding and challenging sport. It has been wonderful to see so many women take up this sport for which they are genuinely suited. The addition of women into the sport has made the over-all sport of pole vaulting better for a number of very important reasons. First and foremost, it gives opportunity for women to participate in a fun and highly rewarding sport. Secondly, it makes the sport of pole vaulting safer (since women are far less likely to have vaulting accidents and their male counter parts). Third, it more fully utilizes facilities and equipment. forth, it will ultimately double the number of potential vaulting coaches nationwide. In my mind, women's pole vaulting is perhaps the most important thing to come along since the fiberglass pole and the foam rubber landing pit.


Jan Johnson
National Safety Chairman Director
Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club

Metric Conversions

Standard Metric Crossbar Crossbar Crossbar Crossbar
Placement Equivalent Height Height Height Metric Height Height Height metric
Inches Centimeters Feet Inches English Equivalent Feet Inches English Equivalent
12 30 10 120 10' 3.05 16.25 195 16'3 4.95
13 33 10.25 123 10'3 3.13 16.5 198 16'6 5.03
14 36 10.5 126 10'6 3.20 16.75 201 16'9 5.11
15 38 10.75 129 10'9 3.28 17 204 17' 5.18
16 41 11 132 11' 3.35 17.25 207 17'3 5.26
17 43 11.25 135 11'3 3.43 17.5 210 17'6 5.34
18 46 11.5 138 11'6 3.51 17.75 213 17'9 5.41
19 48 11.75 141 11'9 3.58 18 216 18' 5.49
20 51 12 144 12' 3.66 18.25 219 18'3 5.56
21 53 12.25 147 12'3 3.73 18.5 222 18'6 5.64
22 56 12.5 150 12'6 3.81 18.75 225 18'9 5.72
23 58 12.75 153 12'9 3.89 19 228 19' 5.79
24 61 13 156 13' 3.96 19.25 231 19'3 5.87
25 64 13.25 159 13'3 4.04 19.5 234 19'6 5.95
26 66 13.5 162 13'6 4.12 19.75 237 19'9 6.02
27 69 13.75 165 13'9 4.19 20 240 20' 6.10
28 71 14 168 14' 4.27 20.25 243 20'3 6.17
29 74 14.25 171 14'3 4.34 20.5 246 20'6 6.25
30 76 14.5 174 14'6 4.42 20.75 249 20'9 6.33
31 79 14.75 177 14'9 4.50 21 252 21' 6.40
32 81 15 180 15' 4.57
33 84 15.25 183 15'3 4.65
34 86 15.5 186 15'6 4.73
35 89 15.75 189 15'9 4.80
36 91 16 192 16' 4.88

Shayla Balentine progression

SJVSC Central Coastal

Shayla Balentine's rise to the National HS record....a coaches perspective.

By Jan Johnson


Shayla Balentine began pole vaulting last March. In the past 14 months she has gone from beginner to the Nationa HS record holder at 13'8". Here is a short history of her amazing progression. She is approximately 5'7", 130 pounds. The Morro Bay HS coach, Greg Wilson tried to get her to try vaulting for over a year before she actually did. She played rec league soccer , and did a little bit of gymnastics as a kid. She also played HS softball, until she went out for track as a sophmore. She has run the 100 meters in 12.2, and long jumped approximately 18'. However, I really don't think either of those marks indicate her true explosiveness, and ability to learn technique.

She jumped 10' in her first month or so. During this time frame we simply learned how to vault with no bend in the pole from 5 lefts. Most of our emphasis was on high hands at take-off, jumping up on to the pole, and sweeping the legs from behind the hips to the top of the pole. Early in the summer she jumped 10'8 at the Beach Vault in Santa Barbara from 5 or 6 lefts (slightly bending a 13' 140). At this point in her development she was having trouble with her turn, and kind of sitting over the bar. So we worked on swing up drills trying to tuck the bottom hand elbow inside the pole and trying to avoid spinning. By the end of summer she had cleared 11'8 from a 7 left run on a 13' 150.

During the summer we rope vaulted everyday. At first she was kind of scared of rope vaulting, but soon she became very proficient. I am certain that this portion of her training was very important in developing her ability to swing quickly and efficiently, and helped her un-canny ability to go "up the pole". During the months of September and October we did no pole vaulting at all. We began fall training in early November doing lots of running, hurdling, and weight lifting. Also, during this phase we would set aside 10 or 15 minuets each session to do some vaulting drills. Mainly we would slide box, and swing ups from 3 lefts.Occasionally, we would do some short runs from 5 lefts, in flats over low heights .

For recruiting purposes, we decided to try and get an early mark at the Summit, so we began vaulting seriously in late November. Most of this jumping was done from a short run of 5 lefts. During this phase she was clearing 11' and 11'6 on a regular basis. Around the middle of December we switched to 7 lefts and started moving up poles. However, during this transition she started shifting her hands up one step too early on her plant. My preception was she was moving so fast down the runway, she felt she needed more time to raise her hands. So we began doing lots of pole runs and slide box from long runs (7L) to correct the problem.

During this same time frame (Dec-Jan) she cleared 12'6 and 13' bungee a few times (gripping 12'8 on 13'6 145&150) from her seven. However, she was very erratic, often times landing near the edges of the pads, or coming up short. Most of her problems seemed more related to inconsistent steps, and tucking right off the ground, than early planting. These types of jumps almost always would produce too much bend and not enough pole speed. So we spent time on jump-off drills learning how to "stay down" better. In addition, we lowered her grip, and went to smaller bending type jumps. Using this method we went to the Reno Summit and vaulted 12'4 easily and nearly made 12'10, gripping a 13'160 at 12'3 from a seven left approach. We continued with this method of jumping until late April. During this time frame she made 12'6, 12'7, 12'8, 12'9, 12'10, and 13' in meets. Most of these marks came gripping approximately 12'4-12'6. It was also during this same time frame, that she corrected her early hand shift problems.

By the first of May she really seemed to be in a very good technical groove, so we decide to make an effort to raise her grip. During the next 4 weeks at every safe opportunity, we did so. As we raised the grip we also went to stiffer poles. This helped us avoid the pit falls and dangers of over-bending type jumps. At this point in the season we also moved her short run back one left to a 6, and her long run back one left, to an 8. During this phase, her long and short runs seemed to become mirror images of one another. As a result, she cleared 13' approximately 30-40 times in meets or practices from both her short and long runs.By the end of May she was gripping 12'9 on a 13'165 from her 6, and 13'3 on a 13'6 160 from her 8.

The last two weeks before the record were simply incredible: In one practice she made 12'6, 13', 13'3, 13'6, and 13'9 never taking more than two jumps to clear a height. Then the last practice prior to the record: she took a couple of short run jumps, then went to the 8 and smoked 13' and 13'6 on her first attempts.We then moved up a pole and had two real good tries at 14'.

At the California state meet the conditions were perfect. It was warm and a light tail wind. In warm-ups I became very concerned when she was running so fast she blew through every pole in her bag, except for a 13'6 160 Carbon 18.3 that Jill Starkey loaned us. I was worried we were under-poled under such good conditions, and we had never been up on the 160. She cleared 11'8 and 12'2 by wide margins on blow-through type jumps. At 12'9 she missed badly on her 13'6 155 18.8 so we went to the 18.3 for her second attempt. She took-off and got huge height but just missed the pocket. On her third attempt our entire group of some 30 parents and vaulters sitting together in the stands, held our collective breath as she roared down the runway and smoked 12'9 by 18". Then she easily cleared 13'1, and 13' 51/2" on first attempts. At 13'8 she was getting tired, but still had enough left for a third attempt clearance. The crowd was chanting 14! 14! 14!. So I think she felt obligated to try it. But she told me she was tired, so we elected to drop back down a pole, and just give it a couple decent shots.

Our plan now is to rest for a couple of weeks, then resume training later in June. We have worked 4-6 days per week for a year straight, and simply need some down time. Then later in the summer we will try to chase a higher mark.

~jan johnson~
national director