Behind the netting at Sabol Field, members of the track and field team reach new heights every day. In 2022, the Fords’ pole vaulting team is larger than usual, but they remain close. Led by a talented group of Sixth Formers, the team enjoys success in the sport and in each others’ company along the way. Number one on the team is Sixth Former Fisher Bond, who has dealt with an injury.
“I’m just trying to meet my [personal record] again,” Bond said. “Last year I had it, and then this year I’ve regressed a little bit. I had problems with my arm.”
While Bond returns to form, he is focused on leading the vaulters as they accomplish their goals.
“We’re just out here every day, over and over again, keeping the reps up to keep going,” Bond said. “The opening height for most meets is seven feet, so we just try and get everyone over that, every meet that we have.”
Fourth Former James Gates is number two for the team, and his love of the sport has grown over his two seasons.
“I love pole vault. I could do it all day if I wanted to,” Gates said. “It’s just such a fun sport to me: using a pole to shoot yourself into the air over a target. That’s really fun, really awesome, and also dangerous.”
Gates has also enjoyed seeing the new additions to the team.
“This year we have an influx of seniors who have some natural talent,” Gates said. “Last year we didn’t have as big of a team, so it’s really nice to be able to be working with more people. The team is growing, and it’s really nice to see.”
One of the new Sixth Formers is John Zhang, who enjoys the sport, largely because of the team’s culture.
“It’s been a fun experience,” Zhang said. “It’s a really friendly team, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. A lot of people on the team improved this year, and that’s always something that’s good to see.”
Zhang also feels that the supportive culture extends to other schools.
“My favorite part of pole vault is the meets, going out and competing against pole vaulters from all around the greater Philadelphia area,” Zhang said. “I think it’s such a friendly community and such a supportive community. Although there’s competition, everyone’s always looking out for each other.”
The sport is all about pushing the limits individually, and the Fords look to continue doing just that.
“It’s more against yourself than it is against other people,” Bond said. “It’s about how good you can become and how far you can push yourself.”