Tuesday August 22, 2017


April Steiner Bennett

by Adele Correale San Miguel

Published in Vaulter Magazine, April 1, 2016

“Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.”
Langston Hughes

In the summer of 1992, April Steiner Bennett was a pony-tailed 12 year-old, sitting on a couch in her family’s middle class home in Mesa, AZ, when the Olympic spark kindled the flame that became her life’s work.

Carl Lewis, then 31, was leaping into gold medal position with an 8.68 meter long jump at the Barcelona Games. Ignited by Lewis’ athleticism and accomplishment, young April persuaded her father to purchase a membership to USATF. That $12 investment became the ticket to her mythic journey as an Olympian, professional vaulter, and dream chaser.

Twenty-four years later, April’s torch is still lit. Her laser sharp focus is aimed at representing Team USA in Rio. Coached by 2000 Olympian Stacy Dragila, April embodies a high ideal in athletics, acknowledging those who have made her odyssey possible. It’s not her, it’s them.


April and husband Cameron

April and husband Cameron

April coined the term Olympianites to define those who guard dreams. In November 2015, she took the stage at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, to deliver a TEDx Talk on The Beautiful Life of Hidden Olympians. It focused on the parents, coaches, and mentors who encourage others to develop their passions. The Olympian is the dream chaser; the Olympianite, the dream maker. Olympianites give ambition its very best chance.

April’s Olympianites include her husband Cameron, who was willing to move to Idaho for her coaching; her parents, Michael and Cara, who feed her a constant stream of enthusiasm and support; and her sponsors ASICS America and UCS Spirit, who supply the essentials so she can focus on the training.

But April’s Olympianites are not limited to a few.  A village surrounds her that is made up of families and clubs across the country, as well as a tribe of ‘little sisters’ who are lifted by her encouragement and who inspire her in return. The light in April’s eye, and the integrity of who she is, has attracted a crowd of Olympianites who want for April what she wants for herself.

The theme of these TEDx Talks was Thou Mayest, a philosophy born of John Steinbeck that suggests we each have the choice to improve our own condition, and in doing …

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Becoming More Through Sport

by Adele Correale San Miguel

Published in Vaulter Magazine on January 1, 2016.

Pole Vault Carolina

Pole Vault Carolina

Pole Vault Carolina began 6 years ago at the insistence of a steadfast parent.

Richard Booth needed a coach for his son, then a junior at Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Richard sought out Jose R. San Miguel, who was assisting with track and field practice at another local high school.

But Jose had a day job and only attended practice to make sure his son was properly instructed in the vault. There, he witnessed some brash athletes more focused on showmanship than on respecting the integrity of the sport. He would not coach just anyone.

Richard, however, would not give up.

Jose reluctantly agreed to meet his son. Though he suffered from severe shin splints, seventeen year-old Harrison had committed himself to the pole vault. Furthermore, he was an extremely polite, hardworking athlete, a young man worthy of Jose’s time and attention. They shook hands. Soon after, vaulters from other schools began attending practice and Jose installed a pit and runway in his side yard.

A club and a coach were born.

Pole Vault Carolina is a small club with mighty ambition. There is more to coaching an athlete than getting them over the bar. Young people struggle to believe in themselves and Coach Jose challenges them to deeply desire their personal success. When mental churn causes athletes to falter, he instructs them to fill a journal with affirmations. The intention is to instill an impenetrable mentality of yes, I can.

Something is working.

Cary Academy Senior Carter Mathis

Cary Academy Senior Carter Mathis

Pole Vault Carolina athletes regularly compete on the larger stages. Cary Academy senior Carter Mathis qualified for New Balance Nationals Indoors in his first meet of the current season. Other vaulters who train regularly include Needham Broughton senior Matt Dillon, also in contention to qualify for NBN;  Chapel Hill High’s Dillon Kopec, who will play a key role in the 3A state championships; Panther Creek junior Midori Kirby, a former gymnast, has made great improvements in her form and is expected to exceed 11′ this season; and newcomer Skyler Noble, a freshman high diver from East Chapel Hill shows great promise. Athletes range from Jose’s 8 year-old son, Antonio, to masters’ vaulter Kevin Anderson.

In its 6-year history, Pole Vault Carolina has graduated 75% of its …

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Pole Vault Carolina
Becoming More Through Track and Field

Phone: 919-523-8333
Email: jose@polevaultcarolina.com
Web: polevaultcarolina.com

Indoor Pole Vault Facility

Located at 2415 Presidential Drive, Ste. 114, Durham, NC 27703 (919)523-8333