Dear Pole Vault: We Do This Because We Dare To Dream


Kaelyn McCann is a 2020 graduate of Linfield Christian High School in Temecula, California, and a Samford University signee in the pole vault. She is a two-time CIF Southern Section Division champion who cleared a personal outdoor record of 11 feet, 9.25 inches in July and has successfully cleared 11-6 or more 12 times since 2018. In this Dear Running (Pole Vault) essay, she takes it back to where it all started. (Photos by Karen Ocskasy)

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Editor's Note: Kaelyn McCann wrote this Dear Running (Pole Vault) essay during the spring and it previously posted to the MileSplit.com national site on May 5. We repost it here for those who may have missed it and to encourage athletes interested in contributing Dear Running and/or Dear Younger Me articles to see the note at the bottom of this post.

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We do the same thing thousands and thousands of times and for what? For the moment where everything else simply fades away and it's only you and the bar. Your one chance, your one moment.


By Kaelyn McCann- Linfield Christian (CA)


Dear Pole Vault,

As children, we jump off of things just to pretend like we are flying. Like we are free from everything that life can throw at us. We crash to the ground and scrape our knees just to climb back up and do it all over again. Why do we do this? We do it because we dare to dream.

Pole vault is an insane sport if you think about it. We run full speed at an immovable object and launch ourselves into the air to see just how close to death we can actually get. Despite knowing these dangers, there is nothing like landing and looking up at the bar still on the pegs. That tiny moment, the pure ecstasy that we feel, makes us all come running back for more.

We do the same thing thousands and thousands of times and for what? For the moment where everything else simply fades away and it's only you and the bar. Your one chance, your one moment.

But what happens when that moment goes wrong?

I've been pole vaulting for nearly five years, and it is one of the most frustrating sports in the world. No matter what happens, no matter if you PR four times or if you no height, you still have to end in failure. There's a certain level of mental toughness that is necessary to compete in this sport and it has taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life: That no matter what life throws at you, no matter how many failures you've been through, you can still succeed.



But after everything, I would not take back a single moment. Because after all of the sore muscles, the shin splints, the poles to the face, the late nights, the mental blocks, and the hard workouts, this sport has given me so much to be thankful for.

As a pole vaulter, it is rare to have a large team from your own school. I love my school and my team, but they don't have a pit or anywhere for me to train.

I had to go and find a home for myself elsewhere. Track and field in essence is an individual sport, unless you're a part of a relay. Usually as a vaulter, we are alone with the pit pushed off to the side and no one paying attention. The few friends that you find, you cling to. And you make a family. My team, made up of many different schools, became where I belonged. They became my support system, my home away from home. Katerina Adamiec (Poway), Ashley Callahan (Rancho Bernardo), Melodie Quiroz (Rancho Bernardo), Maya Grudman (Sage Creek), and Rose Wagner (Fallbrook) have truly become more than just my team, they became my sisters.

The lifelong friendships that I have made, the memories that will never fade, and the successes that I have found make it all worth it.

So thank you, pole vault, for allowing me, and many others like me, to maintain our childhood belief that we can, in fact, fly.

- Kaelyn

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For whatever your passion, be it running, jumping, throwing, hurdling, et cetera, if you are a track and field and/or cross country athlete or coach interested in contributing to the Dear Running and/or Dear Younger Me article series, please email jeffrey.parenti@flosports.tv.

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