Donna Schultz: like mother like daughter vault stars
Donna Schultz is one proud momma. Her daughter, Kate Soma, got hitched to William Conwell last August. Oh, and did I mention that Kate was the 2005 NCAA pole vault champion? And did I mention that Kate is one proud daughter? Her mom has broken the W50 world indoor record in the pole vault twice this year — the most recent being a 3.11 (10-2 1/2) clearance Saturday in Seattle, Washington. A member of the Willamette Striders in Oregon, Donna earlier broke Phil Raschker’s listed W50 indoor vault record of 3.06 (10-0 1/2) set in 2000. Donna did 3.07 at the Pole Vault Summit a month ago in Reno.
I’ve had several email exchanges with Donna in the past month, so it’s time you learn about the woman who beat a Raschker record. (And ANYONE who tops a Phil age-group best is a superstar in my book.)
Donna turned 50 last September, and sometimes vaults at the same meets as Kate.
On the Pole Vault Summit, Donna wrote: “Kate usually goes to Reno but didn’t this year because it was so early in her training. However, she said by the time I called to tell her seven of her friends had already done so. She even sent one over to give me ‘a big hug from Kate.’ How fun was that to get!”
This Q&A followed the Reno meet:
Masterstrack.com: How did the event go? How were you and the other masters ladies treated?
Donna: The Reno Pole Vault Summit is a great venue to jump and even more awesome to break a world record in. It is primarily the only time of year that I actually jump with Masters Women as my other meets are usually with Masters Men or Open College meets. There just aren’t that many Masters women pole vaulters.
The officials at the Reno Pole Vault Summit are professional and supportive. Many of the masters athletes (men and women) vaulted at the same time (there were 12 pits) on Friday evening along with the elite athletes and Olympians being the primary focus for the crowd. But the announcers did a great job of letting the audience know when anyone was attempting a new American or world record. I think there were 5 records broken that night — it was awesome.
Did your record get any public recognition in Reno?
You know, masters athletes don’t do it for the glory. We do it because we love the sport. But I was astounded by how many people (young and old) came up to me over the course of the weekend and congratulated me, told me they were encouraged seeing a vaulter my age. I was excited to share the attainment of my goal with such an appreciative group.
What are your indoor and outdoor plans this year?
I plan to compete in several meets in the NW in January and February and see if I can increase the record from 3.07 meters to something higher.
Trying to break the outdoor world record in the summer will be tougher as it is over 11 feet and my PR last year was 10.5 feet. But I think it is attainable as I’ve done it in practice a few times.
What’s your line of work, and where in Oregon do you live?
I live in Portland and have been working for many years in marketing and product development.
What about your coach, Rick Baggett?
Let me tell you about Rick Baggett. He is the most positive and encouraging coach for all levels of athletes. Anyone that is coached by him improves if they listen and take their training seriously. He has coached state champions, elite vaulters and masters with much success. His facility is the best in the Portland metro area with areas for vaulting, gymnastics, core training, high jump and strength training. I love it.
Tell me about Kate.
She won NCAA her senior year at UW and was the most decorated female athlete. She has been extremely encouraging in my pursuit of breaking records and training goals. I like to think we also can claim the combined mother daughter world record of 24′ 3″ since I don’t know any other mother-daughter combinations out there.
After her latest record, I shot Donna a quickie Q&A. She replied yesterday.
Kate see (your 3.11)?
No, she was still in bed resting up for her competition that afternoon.
Have any jitters opening at the record height?
No, I had made arrangements with the UW coach to open at a height between 3.10 and 3.15, whatever worked for the way he was running the meet.
Yes, 1st jump. I needed to get on a bigger pole, and did.
Close to making next height?
Two good attempts, needed a bigger pole at this height as well. But honestly the bar was raised to 3.31 (10’8 1/2″). Not only would that have been a new world record, but a new PR for me. (PR = 10′ 6″). I’ve done this and higher heights in practice, just gotta do it in a meet now.
What pole do you use, and where do you hold?
I use 12 foot poles (100#. 110#, 120#), holding at 11′ 6″
Going to Boston? If not, any more indoor meets planned?
No, Boston is just too far to travel and get time off of work. I hope to do several indoor meets at UW or in Springfield, OR, before I close out the season.
How high do you hope to go this season?
My goal is to break the American Outdoor record for my age group which is above 10′ 8″ and then to break the World Outdoor record which is above 11′ 1 1/2″ Wish me luck.
Pointing for Spokane?
Absolutely will be in Spokane assuming I stay healthy and strong.
Wish you luck? Heck, Donna, we wish you luck, strength, health, wealth and extreme happiness! And congratulations on an amazing season so far!