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Skyjumpers Connecticut is a pole vault club based in North Franklin, Connecticut. The principal reason for having a pole vault club is to provide opportunities for athletes above and beyond what is available to them at their schools.
At present Skyjumpers Connecticut is comprised mostly of high school pole vaulters but we also have some younger and some older vaulters. One of the best things about the club is the atmosphere. Because we have athletes from so many different schools, the club provides opportunities to create friendships that transcend the usual school and team boundaries. Those friendships help to create a positive, cooperative experience for everybody.
We have athletes involved from all over Connecticut. Although we are based in Southeastern Connecticut (North Franklin), we have vaulters from places such as Glastonbury, East Hampton, South Windsor, Monroe, and even Darien and Westport who travel to participate. We have a broad range of ability levels. Some of our vaulters are beginners. Most are probably intermediate. We have had some outstanding club members such as:
* Jessica Sullivan, 2005, 2006, 2007 Connecticut Class LL Champion and 2007 Connecticut State Open (Indoor and Outdoor) Champion (11'6" high school PR). Jess competed 4 years at the University of Notre Dame (12'0" collegiate PR).
* Jordan Thull, 2005, 2006 State Class L (Indoor and Outdoor) Champion, Open (Indoor and Outdoor) Champion, New England Champion. Holds CT State Indoor Record (15'8") and Outdoor Record 16'1". Jordan competed 4 years at Northeastern University (17-0 collegiate PR).
* Patrick Waszczak, 2007 Connecticut Class M Champion (14'6" high school PR). Competed 4 years at Southern CT State University (15'9" collegiate PR).
* Lauren Bennett, 2007, 2008 State Class L (Indoor and Outdoor Champion) (11' high school PR). Competed at Northeastern University 2009- 2013 (11'10" Collegiate PR).
* Kim Johnson, CT State Class LL & Open Champion both Indoors and Outdoors 2008 & 2009. Set CT Outdoor Record 12’0" (high school PR). Competed for 3 years at Southern CT State University. Division II All American Indoors 2011. New England Outdoor Collegiate Champion 2012 (12’6.25" Collegiate PR). She currently Assistantt Coach at Connecticut College.
* Jess Banning, CT State LL Outdoor Champion 2010 (11' high school PR). Competed at UCONN 2010-2011 (11'6" collegiate PR).
* Kaylan Pickford, 2010 CT Class LL State Champion. Set CT State Indoor Record 12’0.25" (high school PR). Currently competing at the University of Rhode Island. New England Collegiate Indoor Champion 2012 - setting URI school record of 12’6.25". Broke that record again March 8, 2014, with a jump of 12'07.5" (3.85 meters)(collegiate PR), placing 3rd at the East Coast Athletic Conference Championships.
* Lauren O’Connell, Runner-Up 2012 CT Class LL and Open Indoor Championships. Runner-Up New 2012 England Outdoor High School Championships. (12’3" high school PR). Competed at UCONN (12’3.5" collegiate PR).
* Allie Sullivan, 2011 CT State Class LL Outdoor Champion, 2011 CT State Open Indoor Champion, 2012 CT State Open Outdoor Champion (12.0.5" high school PR). Currently competing at the University of Notre Dame (11’9" collegiate PR).
Our coach, Russ VerSteeg, has coached at both Norwich Free Academy and East Lyme High School. He has been on the staff of Jan Johnson's Sky Jumpers camps (Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California) since 2002. In his “day job" he teaches at New England School of Law in Boston, MA (yea, he's a lawyer!) where he teaches Sports Law, Copyright, Trademark, Legal History, and Contracts. He has published five articles relating to the legal and safety aspects of pole vaulting (the most recent co-authored with Jim Bemiller [Jim was Tim Mack's coach…for those of you who don't know], and he's done safety presentations at the Reno Pole Vault Summit (2005 and 2006). Russ is the legal adviser for the Pole Vault Safety Certification Board (www.pvscb.com). He's also certified in First Aid, CPR, has his Connecticut Coach's Certification, and USATF Level One Coaching Certification. Russ has served on the staff of the National USATF Women's Pole Vault Development Committee as legal adviser. He and Jan Johnson wrote the book, “Illustrated History of the Pole Vault," published in January 2008.