1. First, Congratulations on shattering your own indoor record twice at the Lobo Collegiate Invitational. Prior to this season’s indoor meets, you had never cleared 14’; now you’ve cleared 14’ 4 times, including 3 times over 15’. What is the singlemost significant factor in your approach to vaulting now? It's my focus. After having my little girl, my whole focus has changed. It’s gone from pole vaulting just because I kind of liked it to pole vaulting for my little girl who I want more than anything to be proud of her mom. That, and being fearless. I used to be hesitant to get on big poles, and now I don’t have anything to lose, so why not give it everything I've got. This is my second chance at my dreams so I’m definitely not going to let it slip away. 2. What were your expectations going into the 2014-15 season? My expectations were high. 5 days after I had Charlee I was back on the runway doing pop ups. I’ve worked so hard the past year, so I definitely came into this season expecting to jump high. I competed in a few small meets this past summer where I actually jumped 15 for the first time. After doing that, I knew that if I could stay healthy and keep working hard, it was going to be a year for the books. 3. Now that you own the top 3 NCAA vaults this year (15-7, 15-3, 15-2.25), have you re-evaluated your goals and expectations for the remainder of the collegiate season? At the beginning of this season, I sat down with my coach and we made a list of all of my goals for this year, and it’s so incredible to see them coming true. As far as re-evaluating a few of them – yes. One of my top goals was to break the collegiate record...but I don’t think the world record is out of the question. I’ve got a lot to improve on, but I like to set my standards high, so that’s what I'm going for. 4. Your coach – Jeff Erickson – you’ve known since you were a baby. What has he done to the technical aspect of your vault to result in such remarkable high consistency? He has completely changed my way of thinking. When you walk into Coach Erickson's indoor facility, it’s business. He's helped me learn how to block out the outside world when it comes time to practice. If I’m not feeling too well that day, he’s taught me to push through it. And that’s the key to jumping high on a consistent basis. When you push through the bad days, it puts you in the position to jump high on any given day. And another crucial part of me jumping higher is my plant. I'm a lot taller at take-off, and I've got a stronger left arm, so it allows me to get on bigger poles. 5. You now only trail Jen Suhr and Stacy Dragila on the All-Time American list (Indoors). How does it feel to be mentioned with 2 of the greats of American vaulting? It almost doesn't feel real. I’ve looked up to Jenn and Stacy for as long as I can remember since starting to pole vault. And for my name to even be in the same sentence with them is very humbling. 6. Granted there’s plenty of season left, especially with Outdoors, but have your thoughts drifted to Rio for 2016? My ultimate goal is Rio 2016. If I can stay focused and keep putting the work in, I think I've got a good shot at it. But my goals for the moment are Conference, which is coming up in a couple of weeks and then, of course, to take home Stephen F. Austin's first national championship for track and field on the women's side. It’s going to be a battle – there is some amazing talent in the pole vault field this year, but I couldn't be more excited to compete! 7. Tell us how your daughter, Charlee Taylor, has altered your perspective on life, vaulting and your future. She is the reason I am doing what I'm doing right now. I am literally jumping for Charlee. The drive I have now to succeed is nothing like I've ever felt before – I want it so bad. Sitting out a year to prepare myself for being a mom was very hard. I missed pole vaulting more than anything. But that time was exactly what I needed. Each day the fire within me to make a comeback grew stronger and stronger. And now that the time has come to show the world what I can do, I just want to point my finger at my little girl and say it’s all because of her. She's changed my outlook on every aspect of my life. I love her more than anything, and I’m so thankful God has put her in my life. 8. Your father, a former All-American vaulter at Baylor, gets a lot of the credit for inspiring you to continue vaulting after the birth of your daughter. What advice did he give you? My father is an incredible man. I was obviously scared when I found out I was going to be a mother back in 2013. I thought I was going to lose everything. I don’t know how he did it, but he was able to show me that this wasn't the end of anything. If anything, it was just the beginning. He took all of the fear I had inside me and turned it into determination to make a comeback. He got me up on the runway in a matter of days after giving birth to Charlee. At the time I thought he was crazy, but looking back on it, that’s why I am back in the game right now. That’s why I am able to compete with the top jumpers in the nation. He gave me the push I needed, and I'm going to keep the ball rolling. 9. Away from athletics of any kind, what do you enjoy doing? Away from athletics, I really just enjoy spending time with my family. My fiancé packed up and moved down here to Nacogdoches with me not knowing anyone, so I’m just so proud of him and so thankful for his willingness and support. I also thoroughly enjoy being a mother – it’s the greatest feeling. Spending time with my little girl is my most favorite thing to do in the world. 10. You clear 15-3 and 15-7 on first attempts (Lobo Collegiate Invitational). Did you want to continue, or was it a mutual decision to stop? It was definitely a mutual decision to stop. I exerted a lot of energy celebrating after my 15'3 jump...15'7 nearly killed me! It took my breath away, and all I could do was fall to my knees and thank God for everything He’s done for me. 11. You’re on the runway – crowd’s clapping … what’s going through your mind from rocker step to bar clearance? Right before I step on the runway, I visualize myself going over the bar. I try and block out everything going on around me and just focus on what I need to do to clear the bar. I’m not a finesse jumper; my highest bars are honestly not my best jumps. It’s my commitment to what I need to do to get over the bar that’s made me so successful this early in the season. It may not be a pretty jump, but a make’s a make! 12. The night before a meet up to competition time, do you have any rituals or superstitions you follow, be it a particular food or music or a lucky pair of socks, etc.? The night before I jump, I always ice bath. So if we are staying at a hotel for an away meet, I am that crazy girl making multiple trips to the ice machine filling up the mini trash cans with ice! I take my ice baths pretty seriously… ha ha. Also, before the meet last Saturday, I ate what is known as a "Power Dog," but only half of it! I will continue to do this the rest of the season. 13. Critique yourself – what are your strengths and areas for improvement? I would say one of my strengths would be the ability to train like the boys. I’m not afraid to pick up a big pole and run down the runway and plant it. And my areas for improvement are endless. But that’s pretty exciting, too. If I can jump this high doing a lot of things wrong, there's no telling how high I could go if I could clean my jump up a little bit. The sky's the Limit! 14. What’s your major at SFA and future career interests? I am majoring in Kinesiology with a minor in Business. I’d love to open up my own indoor pole vaulting facility and coach kids like my dad does. 15. Pole Vaulters are a pretty tight group. You’re close with UT’s Kaitlin Petrillose and many others from high school and before. Has the PV world’s response been overwhelming? That’s what so great about the pole vaulting community! I am very close with a lot of my competitors from growing up throughout high school jumping together. Especially Kaitlin. She's such a talented pole vaulter, and I am so thankful to jump with her at such a high level! Sandi Morris from Arkansas is an incredible jumper herself, and she's done nothing but congratulate me and encourage me, as well. It's been a heck of a two weeks, but the response I am getting from the pole vault world has been amazing. Overwhelming – yes, but so awesome. I just hope they're ready, because there's a lot more where that came from!
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