Jordan Scott Aiming for Another NCAA Title
April 6, 2011
With every leap into the pole vault pits, Kansas’ Jordan Scott comes closer to the end of his fabulous career in a KU uniform. The fifth year senior has taken home just about every accolade a collegiate jumper could hope to attain: numerous Big 12 awards, regional championships, a host of meet records, indoor and outdoor Big 12 titles, a first-team All-American, national honors, and just last summer, a NCAA championship. One would think that after all of those accomplishments, an athlete’s hunger may subside, but not Scott’s. With just a few months left in his outstanding career, his goals are higher than ever, and he is planning to leave his everlasting mark on collegiate pole vaulting.
“I’ve got a big goal of trying to get 19-8ft., which would be a collegiate record,” Scott said. “If everything goes as planned, I get the right weather conditions, I feel good that day, it’s definitely possible.”
For Scott, the sky has been the limit ever since he first picked up the sport his freshman year at OconeeCountyHigh School in Watkinsville, Ga. It wasn’t a smooth start in track and field for Scott, but the pole vault stuck out as an event he could have potential in, so he decided to give it a shot.
“I wanted to run track,” Scott explained. “I really stunk at some of the other events. Every event actually, including pole vault. But pole vault was the most fun and some coaches said I had potential.”
He quickly progressed, getting instruction from the coach at the University of Georgia and attending camps across the state. He improved at an amazing pace and before he knew it, he was breaking state records and winning high school state championships in the event. Scott was twice named the Georgia field athlete of the year and was a two-time All-American.
These impressive high school accolades made him one of the top recruits in the country, garnering scholarship offers from top programs from around the nation. However, only one school and one coach stood out to him in the end.
“It was mostly coach Hays,” Scott said of KU’s veteran pole vault coach Tom Hays. “He was the main factor in the decision. I got offers from a few different schools, but coach Hays was the best coach I could have imagined in Division I. I came on my visit and just fell in love with it.”
Even after his highly successful high school career, Scott couldn’t predict the kind of success that was to come at KU under coach Hays’ direction. At first, he was apprehensive about leaving his family and his friends and making the 900 mile trip to Lawrence, but he quickly realized that he had made the right decision.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Scott said. “Opportunities have opened up that I never thought were possible. I had always hoped to win an NCAA championship and beat the best in college but when I won I was like, ‘Wow. I really did make a good decision in coming here.’ I’ve had no regrets.”
Scott hasn’t only been a high achiever in the pole vault, but in the classroom as well. A first team academic All-American, Scott graduated in the fall with a bachelor’s in Sport Management and plans to stay at KU to get a master’s in the same field. He also has aspirations for a professional career in pole vault after he’s done with school. He redshirted this past indoor season to finish up his degree. This gave him a taste of what it will be like as a professional, having to qualify and transport himself to each meet without the help of the KU track and field team. After a long indoor season, Scott is happy to be back on the squad for the 2011 outdoor season.
“It was tough having to drive to my own competitions and trying to get into meets that were only for college athletes,” Scott explained. “It’s kind of a preview of a professional lifestyle. If I’m lucky enough to make it professionally then I kind of got a preview these past couple months. It’s difficult. It’s good to be back with the team again.”
It’s not just that he is happy to be traveling with the team again, it’s that he gets to spend more time with the teammates and coaches that he has formed friendships with over the past five years. For Scott, it hasn’t been friendships formed just at KU, he’s created a network all across the country.
“I’ve made so many friends at KU in the pole vault group and on the rest of the team,” Scott said. “I’ve also made connections at pretty much every other school that we’ve competed against. I’ve made friends with countless people at countless universities. It’s really cool having that network, knowing so many people pretty much anywhere you go. I can go out of the country and still see someone I know. That’s what I’ve really enjoyed about college and competing across the country, the relationships.”
Even though Scott is trying to focus on his final season at KU and a possible professional career, he still likes look back on the highlight of his career, winning the NCAA outdoor pole vault title last June. Scott took home KU’s first individual outdoor national title since 2003 with a vault of 5.40m (17-08.50ft.) on a cool and rainy day in Eugene, Ore., which were not prime conditions for any pole vaulter.
“It was surreal,” Scott reflected. “It was horrible weather that day, not a good day to compete. During that competition I had a positive yet negative outlook on it. With all the bad weather, I thought I probably wasn’t going to jump well, but that also meant that everyone else wasn’t going to jump well either, so it was really anyone’s ballgame. I had some good strategy. Coach and I talked through it and really just played the game how it was supposed to be played and came out with the win. It was a great day.”
Scott has stuck to a stringent training schedule and admits he doesn’t have much downtime, especially during the season. On occasion though, he does find some time to himself and says he just likes stay active.
“I love long-boarding,” Scott said. “I’m very amateur at it but it’s really fun and it gets your mind off of things. I’ll also play pretty much any other sport, a pick-up game of football, frisbee, basketball, whatever. Just anything that keeps me active.”
With the heart of the outdoor season looming, Scott won’t have much time for pick-up games. The goals and demands he has for himself this season require too much time and dedication, for even the most veteran collegiate athlete. For now, Scott is just trying to stay humble and take each meet one at a time. He believes if he does that, more accolades are sure to come his way.
“My goal is to just jump consistently throughout the season,” Scott explained. “I just want to get good bars throughout the year, maybe around 18 ft. or higher. To repeat as champion would be awesome, too. I’ve got goals a long the way so if I get one here or there, I’ll be happy with it.”