High-School Hubris

Always leaving destruction in my wake

“What are your standards?”

Well, I try not to do anything overtly wrong, cheat on tests only when it’s the most utilitarian option, attempt to help others when applicable etc, what are yours, Mr. Coach guy?

For those unfamiliar with the greatest sport, standards are the two posts that hold the crossbar and can be shifted closer or further depending on the athlete’s preference.


I don’t have a finite document of standards, it’s more of a running list that I can quickly refer back to in a pinch to see if something, anything, aligns. Not entirely different than my approach to pole-vaulting- whatever works, works. This is an especially tricky topic for me, as my particular form “worked,” to the extent that it would allow me to vault at least ten feet, but it was also fundamentally wrong.

My father pole-vaulted in his prime, and growing up, I was imbued with this idea that I was destined to be an all-star pole-vaulter. And to this day I truly believe that was my destiny, had I not been left to my own devices. I learned to pole-vault at my uncle’s house in Arkansas, where the sport became banned at a local high school. Having no need for it, the school gave the pole-vaulting pit and equipment to my uncle, of course. He had minimal experience with it, as did everyone else so it was mostly a matter of “here’s this pole, go for it.” It’s not that this description of the sport is necessarily inaccurate, it’s simply incomplete.

With what little information I had, I developed quite possibly the worst form ever to grace Sycamore High School, whose coaches(or lack thereof) were no match for. My insatiable desire to fulfill my destiny clouded my judgement of form, “it’s not that bad.” And so, I brashly vaulted off the opposite foot in defiance of what I perceived to be naysaying adults and peers, hellbent upon proving them wrong. Yet another classic case of hubris.

“Persson up!”

I stared at the narrow box beneath the mat’s padding, a gaping hole seeking to devour not only the fiberglass pole, but my body as well. With the 15 foot pole in hand puncturing the sky, I thrust my lead foot in front of my body, shifting my weight onto it as the trail leg followed behind in rapid succession, quickly breaking into a sprint.

The pole gradually lowered to meet the box, a hollow scraping against the cement into a hard thump, as my body followed behind, ready to leap into the air, bending the pole to fuel my ascent. My right knee forms a tight 90 degree angle with my trail leg gradually swinging up behind it. I’m nearly upside down, my head pointing toward the menacingly hard pavement, arching my back to gracefully soar over the crossbar.

And that’s the moment when my shoulder blade brushes past the bar, knocking it to ground and breaking the silence in a sickening plastic clack.

Lying in the comfort of my fall on the immense padding, I stare back at the black runway, trying to pinpoint the exact moment when I went wrong. I probably started wrong, but finished right. But so wrong, that the time I had to perfect the right simply wasn’t enough.

As in, my entrance into the sport of pole-vaulting was wrong, but I gradually corrected my form, ultimately too late to fully utilize my skills. I frequently have dreams of pole-vaulting. As far as high school sports go, there simply isn’t anything like it. You could make a case for high-jump, but it lacks the height(unless you’re at State)

Either way, I feel an emptiness when I think about the premise of never being able to do it again. It makes me wonder, when I find the next thing I truly love, will I listen to those around me?

Or will I write this post again in 4 years but with a different topic?