Jason Colwick KWIK-E
April 9, 2010
Rice senior Jason Colwick, a two-time NCAA pole vault champion, recently won this past weekend's Texas Relays competition with a mark of 18 feet, 8 ¼ inches over Jordan Scott of Kansas State. Colwick has big goals and an exciting vaulting career ahead of him.
What meets do you have lined up for the rest of the outdoor season?
I think next weekend we're going to UTEP. Then we've got a Rice meet, a Baylor meet, another Austin meet...our conference meet, which is in Florida, then back to Austin for Regionals.
You don't have to travel that far at all?
No, actually I like it that way. I liked traveling when I was a freshman, but I kind of got all of that out of my system since I've been everywhere around the country. I actually don't like traveling because it eats up my weekend...especially with this year as a senior. We have to do so much more. We have this big design project and we have to do so much more to finish out here. I like staying close by and taking road trips.
What are you studying?
I'm a mechanical engineer.
How long until you go over 19 feet?
Oh, my God! I've been chasing that bar for so long. I haven't been chasing it, but I've attempted it at least two-dozen times now. It's getting kind of old.
What's the best look you've had?
I've had some pretty good looks. I hate to say it's not a significant mark, because obviously it is, but I told myself at the beginning of the year that I'm just in this to have fun and stay in shape. And I'm doing that. It's a cheesy, cheese-ball answer, but it's true. As far as when it's going to happen. Probably very soon. I thought it was going to happen yesterday (Texas Relays), but I also thought it was going to happen at the U of NH and Nebraska indoors. Even at indoor nationals, I was running really well and it just didn't happen. It's not a question of “if”, it's a question of “when” now.
What do you have to work on to get there?
This year is a little different. My hamstring is giving me a bit of trouble. In the past, I haven't been prone to injury. I've been really luck up until this year. I think the next step is getting a little bit better flex number and maybe inching up my grip an inch or two. I've some really good shots on five-meter poles. That will probably work out. It's one of those things. Whenever it happens, it happens!
You said you're looking to have fun this outdoor season and whenever it happens, it happens. Do you have any set goals for this outdoor season?
I have goals, but I keep those to myself. I don't even let my coach really know what they are. I'm trying to have fun. My indoor season wasn't the greatest and that kind of put me in a slump. School has been stressing me out a little. This weekend with Jordan Scott at the Texas Relays really re-ignited my love for the event and why I'm really addicted to this sport.
It was good to win over such a strong competitor?
Oh, yeah! That was by far the toughest college competition I've ever jumped in. I only took—what—seven, eight, nine jumps? But I was dead toward the end. If he was able to make that next back, I don't know if I could have stepped it up.
Does that mean you won't share your goals with us?
(Laughs)...No, I'll tell you anything you want to know. I have goals. I want to win as many meets as possible, hopefully all of my outdoor meets. Everybody wants to do well and PR and win the national title. I guess the difference is the amount of work that you're willing to put in and the amount of consistency that you're able to handle and achieve throughout the season. My goal is to PR every meet. If I didn't want to PR every meet, then what's the point of competing? Obviously that's not going to happen. Nobody is perfect. But with good practice and positive attitude, you can get really, really, really close to that goal. Mistakes are human, but you can minimize those mistakes with trial and error, practice and experience. And, I think that's what I'm doing. I started off really strong for the outdoor season. Next week, we're going to El Paso and that's a really good facility. I've jumped there once before and jumped really well. I think I can continue the string of success I've had over the past.
What do you have lined up for plans after the outdoor season? Have you got stuff in the works?
Yeah, I didn't until NCAA indoors. I didn't even think about pole vaulting after college, to be honest with you. This whole thing has blown up really fast and really big in a really good way. I'm definitely going to continue pole vaulting. I can't not do that. It's given me so much—a college education, I'm a great shape, I'm at great school with great friends! It's given me the world! Look at guys like Steve Hooker and Brad Walker. I can't even think about the ride they've had in the last 10 years. I want to be apart of that and experience that for myself.
How closely do you follow the world of pole vaulting? Are you a junkie?
Am I stat junkie? No! I don't hover over the internet every night, looking up stats. I know who the top three, four, five guys are in the world every year. I'm not a stat junkie, but I can appreciate it for what it is. I certainly appreciate what it takes to get marks like that and win championships like that. I'm a fan, as much as anybody.
What do you know about the pro pole-vaulting scene?
I've been lucky enough to have a really well-rounded and knowledgeable coach who's really, really gotten me to make a lot of contacts over the last four years. With guys like Jeff Hartwig, Brad Walker, a bunch of the German guys this past summer. Also a bunch of American vaulters...Tim Mack and his coach. I've kind of been gathering as much information for all of them as I can and getting both sides of the story and using that to make my decision or base my training and figure out what I have to do to survive. I'm not expecting to make a living off of pole vaulting for forever. I've got professional aspirations. I'm not going to be a pole vault bum until I'm 50. I've got a pretty good idea of what the season is like, how training is structured, what pros do, how often you have to be in Europe, what marks you have to hit to sustain yourself. I've got a pretty good idea, I think.
How excited are you for this?
I can't even tell you! Last summer, I went to Germany and France and it was the best summer of my life! And I know that the next two years of my life, at least, are going to be like that...continuously. It's like graduating high school and getting ready for college. You just get giddy and excited and when you get there, it's everything you expected to be and more. That's what I'm hoping my professional pole vaulting career is going to be like. I've had the ride of my life—as I'm sure a lot of collegiate athletes say when they turn pro and even some who don't. The bottom line—and it sounds cheese ball—is if you're not having fun then you're not really doing it right. I think I've found a pretty good balance point.
You've got a background in gymnastics?
Yeah! I did gymnastics as a kid. My parents were kind of into that stuff. I did a lot of sports, though. I did football and basketball in junior high. I think gymnastics was my first sporting love. I didn't really know how much of an advantage it gave me until recently. There are certain drills in practice that I can do better than my teammates and I think it's because of that background I've been given. I've got a great base to go off of.
You can definitely tell with your pole vaulting?
With body awareness stuff and getting into positions. Obviously the pole vault is a really technical event and I think that I'm playing my advantage appropriately. I think that's some of the reason that I've had success over the past two or three years. Gymnastics is a big part, but obviously any 18-20-year old that comes to college is going to grow physically, that's just a given. If combine all those things with good coaching and consistency over time...then that's the formula for success. Don't get me wrong, I've had my ups and downs. It's not like I've been a straight shooter since I started. About a year ago, I hit a low point and was wondering if I should do this or not. School was overwhelming, getting all these projects together...pole vaulting was overwhelming with traveling every weekend. I've gone through some bad times and some good times. Overall, I think I'm still in the green and I want to keep it that way.
What exactly did you do in gymnastics. Pole vaulting is semi-awkward where you're putting yourself in a dangerous position, almost 20 feet in the air. Did gymnastics help you with dealing with that sort of thing?
For sure. There are six events in gymnastics and I did all six. Even now, to work on one once a week, we've got a facility a few blocks away from campus that I try to get to for a couple of hours a week. I just try to hit those muscle groups that you can't hit on a track or in a weight room. There's just certain things that you can do that you can't get anywhere else.
When you do get free time, what do you do for fun?
What do I do for fun? I hang out at Rice. Rice has been my life for the past four years. I've got a good group of friends over here and I've got a lot of things to do in Houston. I'm a really relaxed person. I like taking care of me and feeling relaxed and happy. I try to find things that I like to do and do them. I play music with some of my friends sometimes to relax. I'm not really a big party animal. I will go out every once and a while. I like to keep it low-key and stay home and read a book or something every other weekend. It just depends on how I'm feeling. As much as I love pole vault—and I would love to jump seven times a week, three hours a day—I've experienced some of that “burning out” sensation and I think I've now got a better grasp on what it takes to stay balanced and stay focused until when it counts in the championships in the season.
How close have you come to saying, “screw all this! I'm going to live the life of a normal college student!”?
I can't say I've never thought about it, but, realistically, I guess I've never been to the point where I'm like, “flip a coin and I'll quit pole vaulting or not”. I've never been to that point. Every college athlete in the United States has got stuff on their plate and school to think of and a social life and traveling. Everything is manageable if you don't stress over stuff. If you take it one step at a time and develop good habits, that's when you can do it.
If you could have one meal, prepared by anyone, what would you have and would make it?
I'm not really a food buff. Eating is kind of a chore to me at the moment. It kind of sucks. I enjoy eating, but probably not as much as I will when I'm 50.
Are you on a tight regiment with food?
No. I've never counted calories. I try to eat healthy and eat good, well-rounded stuff. I don't count calories or prepare special food for myself or take supplements or any of that other crazy stuff.
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