Scott Hinds watched carefully as the football players drew closer to where he and many of his pole-vaulting students were practicing.
Greenbrier High School's pole vault camp coincided with the seven-on-seven passing drills held at the high school. With poles leaning against the goalpost and the runway a few yards behind the end zone, the gathering of vaulters was in the line of fire.
But Hinds didn't mind. The pole vault camp, held June 2-5, was the first of its kind for this area, and Hinds was just glad the venue was available.
Hinds is a community coach at Lakeside, but he enlisted the use of Greenbrier's pit and mats, a setup which is too expensive for many schools.
Hinds coached in the area in the early 1990s before the pits he was using rotted.
"It was (Greenbrier track coach) Kati Smallwood's opportunity with the pits and me wanting to get more kids involved in pole vaulting," Hinds said.
Hinds said his goal is to generate more interest in the event throughout the county. With Greenbrier being one of the only area schools with adequate equipment, Wolfpack vaulters have dominated the event.
Greenbrier's Matt Gooding and Matt Coleman finished first and second, respectively, in April's Region 3-AAAA meet. Wolfpack senior Becky Stankus won the girls region pole vault title.
Hinds said the cost and the safety aspect make the event unique and sometimes prohibitive for potential vaulters.
"That seems to be the big problem with this sport," Hinds said. "They give you a pole, put you on a runway and say, 'Go jump.' "
Hinds began the second day of his camp with one-on-one instruction. Katie Coleman, an eighth-grader at Greenbrier Middle School, was learning the basics. Hinds showed her the proper grip and then how to plant properly.
Coleman then worked with Smallwood and progressed to clearing a 2-foot hurdle and landing in a sand pit.
Coleman's brother was a pole vaulter at Greenbrier, and she said she wanted to follow in his footsteps.
"It seemed kind of fun just watching it," Coleman said.
Hinds said there were three beginners and five experienced vaulters among the registrants.
Ross Daniel, a rising senior at Edmund Burke Academy in Waynesboro, said his personal best entering the camp was a clearance of 10 feet. He said he'd like the opportunity to compete in college.
"If I can get better," he said. "I really like it."
Hinds said helping vaulters get college scholarships wasn't his primary goal. He simply hoped to get them involved so that more vaulters could represent the area.
"It takes time," he said. "But every now and then, a good athlete comes along."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.