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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 typically 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:
* Mallory Malz, Glastonbury High School, 2021 Connecticut Class LL & State Open Outdoor Champion (11'06" high school PR). Currently competing at UCONN.
* Paige Martin, Norwich Free Academy, 2020 Connecticut LL and State Open Champion (12'06" high school PR). Currently competing at the University of California Berkeley.
* Patrick Oatman, Rham High School, (15'04" high school PR). Currently competing at UCONN.
* Tyra Finkeldey, Old Saybrook High School, 2018 Connecticut State Open Indoor Champion (11'06" high school PR). Currently competing at Belmont Univerity, where she recently set the school indoor record 13'01.5".
* Kaylan Pickford, Norwich Free Academy, (12’0.25" high school PR). New England Collegiate Indoor Champion 2012 - setting URI school record of 12’6.25". Collegiate PR 12'08".
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.