Bubba Sparks plans free Southern California vault/clinic in June

Bubba doesn’t gump. He jumps, wins national and world titles.

Clinics for high jumpers, throwers and runners are common these days. But how often do you see a symposium and competition just for vaulters? OK, maybe at Reno. But what if it’s free? That’s the plan announced this week by Southern California’s Doug “Bubba” Sparks, who has access to Dana Hills High School facilities. Bubba writes: “I will be hosting the first annual Masters Pole Vault Symposium and Meet on Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Dana Point, California. Yes some may have to travel, but remarkably nearly 2,000 vaulters and coaches find their way to Reno each year. Where would you rather go? Reno in the winter or the beach in Southern California in the summer? Discussions on training, technique, equipment and injury management will be 9 a.m. to noon, with a meet to follow at 1. BBQ and party at my house afterwards. Dana Hills High School always has an afternoon tailwind and summers at the beach are not hot. Cost of entry is $0 – NADA – NOTHING! Experience and fellowship – PRICELESS!! Reasonable rates are available at the Dana Point Marina Inn.

I wrote Bubba for more details, and he graciously responded:
Masterstrack.com: How many pits?

Bubba Sparks: We will have access to two. I work with the kids at Dana Hills HS 2-3 times a week from June 1 through Reno, so they are kind enough to let me have access to the facility. Their head coach, Craig Dunn, was a vaulter for DHHS and a tremendous supporter of the event.

Google Earth our facility and you will see that it is the only one with runways angled across the top of the curve section. Only a vaulter/coach would design a facility like that just so the vaulters have a tailwind. He’s a remarkable coach and man! I couldn’t be more fortunate!

Bubba clears bar by a mile down under.

Who will coach?

Mike Bartolina is my lead coach. Mike has coached on the national and international level for years including developing his ex Erica Bartolina to make our 2008 Olympic team.

I will [coach] but the purpose is more to share what has worked for all of us in the area of technique, training, poles/equipment and injury management. I was the vault coach at UC Irvine for 14 years, and a 1996 Olympic Coaching Technician who’s job was to spend five weeks helping at the practice pole vault pit at the Olympics in Atlanta.

Anything the Olympians and their coaches needed we made happen. I have also been on the business side of physical therapy since 1987 and have had many elite athletes come to town to work out injury and training issues over the years.

Any celeb vaulters expected (open or masters)?

Two-time Australian Olympian Simon Arkell (5.80 – lefty WR) lives in the area and wants to help out. I’m sure there will be more.

USATF sanctioned? Who will officiate?

Haven’t gotten that far but I have access to many great USATF officials and will certainly use them.

If the meet is free, does the symposium have a cost?

Everything will be free including the BBQ afterwards. They can bring their own drinks but I will supply everything else. I want it to be a fun experience. Some will have to pay to travel, so I don’t want the added expense of a fee to join us.

How did you come up with this event?

I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I get emails every week from masters vaulters asking me about injuries, training, poles and technique. I know the National PV Summit in Reno had humble beginnings but is Disneyland for vaulters. I wanted us to start our own sector devoted to issues that concern vaulting as we age.

What’s your injury status? Will you jump as well?

I exploded my hamstring in Reno. The worst ever. I took my first jump 30 days afterwards even though I can usually jump at a low level 2-3 weeks after. I will vault at the Air Force Academy next weekend and then nationals in Boston. Yes, I plan to jump in our meet.

My former orthopedic surgeon, the late and great Glen Almquist, used to say that, “To be an elite athlete is to train on a balance beam. If you fall off of one side, you get hurt, and off the other you don’t make progress. The older you get the more narrow the beam becomes AND the longer the climb back up.”

The main purpose for this event is learning to manage the beam while sharing the fellowship and brotherhood of vaulters.

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February 23, 2014

14 Responses

  1. Dan Cassidy - February 23, 2014

    This will be a great time!!!! Bubba, If you need any extra poles for folks to use, I can bring some along with me. I look forward to being there.

  2. Phil K. Bisson - February 23, 2014

    This is just great for seniors to get hands on information about something they love and want to stay close to. As I found out, my eagerness to jump the way I did 45 yrs ago cost me as I hurt my calf, hamstring and quads all too quickly. This will be great to be with a bunch of people who breath The Vault !!! Thanks so much Bubba for letting me think about vaulting again 20 yrs ago in CDM.

  3. Bubba Sparks - February 23, 2014

    Can’t wait to see you all! Thanks Ken for posting about the event!

  4. Terry Ballou - February 24, 2014

    Wow, I’m jealous…I’ve always wanted to try pole vaulting but know absolutely nothing about it…they didn’t have it for girls back when I was in school. Bubba, wish you were on the east coast!

  5. Bubba Sparks - February 24, 2014

    Would love to coach you Terry! No experience needed!! Let me know if you’re ever out this way and I will do the same. All the best!!

  6. Bubba Sparks - February 25, 2014

    IMPORTANT NOTE – regarding the Masters Pole Vault Symposium/Meet. Due to a conflict with an area USATF qualifying meet, our firm and final date for this event will be Saturday, June 28, or one week later than planned. Thanks to my great friend Kirk Bentz for helping with this.

  7. Larry Bonnett - February 25, 2014

    Bubba, sounds like a lot of fun.Will plan on coming. Any idea how many vaulters will jump? Do we need to sign up with opening ht. How about poles?
    Glad to hear your ham is coming around.

  8. Bubba Sparks - February 26, 2014

    I’m getting inquiries from all over but can’t predict how many. I will put out more info when we get closer, but there will be poles. Always enjoy seeing you Larry!

  9. Rita Hanscom - February 26, 2014

    Thanks for changing the date. Looking forward to finally learning the secrets of vaulting. (There’s some weird magic involved, right?)

  10. Tim Meledy - February 27, 2014

    Hi looking forward to the pole vault clinic. If you need help let me know. I wrote my Master thesis on the Pole Vault and Ron Morris was a chair. I have been coaching pole vault for over 30 years in southern Ca. And one athlete last year won division 1 Pole Vault in CIF. I go surfing all the time in Dana Point and live in the area. Thanks

  11. Bubba Sparks - February 27, 2014

    I think you do awesome Rita but am thrilled to have you!! I will see you in Boston!

  12. Bubba Sparks - February 28, 2014

    Love to have you Tim!!

  13. Kristi - March 5, 2014

    Oh no. The SDI Association Masters Track and Field meet is also on 6/28/14. It will have polevault. See http://www.chuckmcmahonmeet.com. I am just getting into masters vaulting female age 36, San Marcos was going to be my first masters competition. Not sure where to go now on June 28 now. What do you suggest?

  14. tommy kuenster - June 11, 2015

    Hello Bubba,

    I heard you had a great pole vault program last year in Dana Point. Are you going to have another one this year?

    Thanks Tommy Kuenster

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