From the National Pole Vault Summit — Daily Blog Installment 3.

by Debra Chappell

photo copy 3

2 Days to go before Summit starts!

As per tradition, some members of the Summit staff (that would be the Chappell clan) retreated to “the mountain cabin” this past weekend prior to the Summit for some CIMG0934 10-01-52team building, strategic planning, and event overview.  This annual family sojourn is far from the calm, philosophical, zen-like intent of most similarly aimed “corporate retreats”, and usually winds up being a complete, intense total immersion in Summit logistics – (read that absolute bedlam.)

Within minutes of arrival Vault Command Central is set up, plugged in and running at photo copy 7full-throttle, and laptops, iphones, and blackberries invade the otherwise serene electronic-free environment.  Twitter, facebook, texting and relevant website posts erupt in the once tranquil atmosphere and the entire PV community both nationally and internationally is online and at the ready, making contact sometimes simultaneously.  Scads of competition lists are strewn across the floor, coaching assignments spread on every hard surface, computer and charger cables run amok (confounding the dog and the casual pedestrian) and up to 67 phone conversations take place at any given time.  It  is interrupted only occasionally by yours truly shouting “who wants coffee”, “so and so’s calling but I don’t know who’s phone this is…” and “has anyone seen my glasses?”

On Golden Pond it’s not.

By about 5:00 Saturday afternoon (well into the PV blitzkrieg) we realized a break was in photo copy 4order and an excursion to the local mirco-brewery necessary to recharge fading reserves and maintain staff cohesion and good will. After a few pints, somephoto killer homemade beer mustard on crackers, and the second half of the Niner/Packer game, we returned to Command Central in better spirits and fully recharged to work the remainder of the weekend.  A good thing too, the dawn of what’s affectionately known around here as “hell week” was a mere 24 hours away.

The biggest challenge at the Pole Vault Summit is the setup of 11 pits and runways all under one roof – in a matter of a couple days.  This is where Master Choreographer Lane Maestretti reigns IMG_1925supreme. If you just get out of his way while he’s in “the zone”, he transforms an average dirt floored rodeo ring into one of the most dazzling, atmospheric, and exciting places to jump in the sport. But none of it could happen with out the eager and enthusiastic help from a host of imported volunteers from Butte College, Chico State and our local ROP, as well as a couple random crazy people who are willing to work for Red Bull and a trip to the breakfast buffet in the wee hours of Sunday morning!

The bulk of pole vault pits are trucked in from UCS headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. – while the remainder are utilized from surrounding local high schools.  (Somehow though, it’s not quite as simple as borrowing a cup of sugar.) Precise logistical planning and the highly skilledphoto copy manpower (okay…grunt-work) of any and all able bodies is necessary. Vehicles, hand- dollies, pit carts, strong shoulders, healthy knees and 14 pounds of Advil are necessary provisions for Summit set-up, and all are employed in generous doses. (I don’t know what it is about pole vaulters…BUT they sure don’t seem to travel light!)

So…here’s how the week began:

Day One: Monday January 14th:

7:00 am.  Temperature:  -3 degrees:  Lane and company (Mike and Chris Chappell – the only other guys crazy enough to show up at this hour in this weather) are at the track at Douglas High School, loading a pit for transport to the Livestock Event Center.

Back at Spirit, equipment carts, standards, folding mats etc get loaded on truck for transport as well.  NO time for latte, trucks gotta get on the road and head for the arena.

Arena floor is freshly  lasered and graded – a necessity after previous weekend’s  BMX event.

Office equipment (ie: computers, printers, data base, copiers, sign boards, clip boards, credentials, lanyards, coffee cups and a weeks worth of Twix bars) gets moved to host hotel from Spirit.

Staff lists finalized.

Hall of Fame inductees coordinated.

Speakers lists scheduled and printed.

Mary Saxer copyCreation of and printer preparation for 23 Athletes Autograph Cards.

AND BEST NEWS OF ALL: Pit and construction crews arrive with smiles, energy and  electric drills in hand.  No one is more relieved than the Chappell brothers…all hands are on deck  – Maestro Maestretti has cranked up the music…


That’s if for now, see you here tomorrow…

Track & Field: National Pole Vault Summit