The language of pole vaulting

I was a pole vaulter in high school, and a pretty good on until a car accident ended my chances at a senior season. There were three pole vaulters on my school’s track team:

James Dean. Jack Daniels, and me, Matthew Dicks.

Quite an assemblage of names.


Jack and I only became pole vaulters after Coach Cronin decided that he needed two other vaulters to clear the 7’6’’ opening height so that Jimmy, a possible state champion, could compete in the relays, a series of meets that required the team field three competitors for each event.

If we did not have three vaulters clear opening height at a relay, Jimmy’s vaults would be meaningless and the team would not receive any points for his efforts.

So Coach turned Jack and me into pole vaulters.

If you’ve never been to a track meet, it can be pretty boring. Lots of waiting around  until it’s your turn to run, jump, vault, throw, etc. Track meet officials let you know when it’s your turn to vault by announcing the next three vaulters like this:

Smith up. Jones on deck. Davidson in the hole.

So when my turn to vault was approaching, I would hear this:

Dicks up. Dicks on deck. Dicks in the hole.

As you might imagine, it was challenging to focus amongst the eruptions of laughter that often ensued.