Up, up, and away: Sophomore pole vaulter sets new school record, loses season to COVID

Abby Mendez

With UIL abruptly cancelling all sporting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes had to say goodbye to the season they thought they would have. For some students, it was their final year of high school, for others they were just getting a taste of what a varsity sport was like, and though sophomore Sailor Todaro still has two years of eligibility to compete, she was leading the pole vaulting team and was prepared to advance through the post season.

“Pole vaulting takes a lot of mental and physical strength,” Sailor said. “I love to fly, and I love the thrill of being able to clear the bar. I had been planning and preparing for this track season all school year and then to have it all come to an end just as it was starting was heartbreaking.”

At the first track meet of the season, Sailor set a new school record for girls pole vaulting by jumping a height of 12 feet, improving from 10 feet the year before.

“I was super proud of myself,” Sailor said. “I knew that I had two more years left of high school to break my own record and to set it even higher before graduating. Being able to reach the goals I have set for myself has been gratifying because all my training and hard work is paying off. I always want to be the best I can be.”

Her vaulting coach, Russel Young, is supportive of Sailor’s goals and has seen her grow as an athlete.

“Sailor has definitely shown improvement from last year,” Young said. “She is stronger, faster, and her technique has improved. Her dedication to the sport and her attitude is what makes her special. She is always positive and is very coachable; to succeed in any sport you have to approach it with a good attitude and be willing to listen and learn from your coaches.”

Unfortunately, the track season was cut short due to school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I was heartbroken knowing that track season was coming to an end,” Sailor said. “I will not have the opportunity to jump higher this year or qualify for the state meet. The Coronavirus outbreak caused everything to come to a standstill.”

Even with the pandemic, athletes and coaches are working together to stay in shape and prepare for the next school year.

“Right now the coaching staff is just trying to keep the athletes active and in shape,” Young said. “One of the things we are doing is having them contact us and send us pictures of their workouts at home. Pole vault is not really a sport that you can practice at home, but by staying in shape, keeping your core strong and working on speed, it will help them be prepared for next season.”

Despite the setbacks, Sailor is working hard to maintain her skills and better herself as an athlete.

“I follow a workout routine that was set out by my vaulting coach at Mac Vault,” Sailor said. “I communicate with him daily and I go to his facility where he allows me to go on my own to continue to train and workout. I am working on conditioning, building strength, building speed, and perfecting my vaulting technique so that I can improve my jumps and get higher.”

With next season in mind, Sailor is practicing hard and setting her goals even higher. 

“I plan on returning as a stronger and more determined pole vaulter,” Sailor said. “I want to break my current school record and set a new one by jumping 13 feet or higher. I plan on continuing to train year-round and compete as soon as I am able to. My goal is to set more indoor and outdoor personal records so that I can catch the eye of college track coaches who are interested in me jumping at their universities.”

Though the dealing with the nation-wide shutdown of schools has been difficult, everyone is in it together and the goals have shifted to next year as athletes continue to focus on their next goal.

“It is obviously not something anyone expected, and we certainly didn’t want the season to end the way it has,” Young said. “It is disappointing for the athletes to put in so much time and effort, then not be able to compete. A positive attitude is essential in times like these and that’s something coaches try to instill in athletes. I’m excited about next year for Sailor because even with everything going on right now, I know she is dedicated and will stay in shape and be ready for next season.”