Once A Jayhawk, Always A Jayhawk: Andrea Geubelle
Former University of Kansas track & field standout Andrea Geubelle is not only one of the greatest jumpers to don the Crimson and Blue, holding KU records for both the long jump and indoor triple jump, but also an Olympic hopeful. Many of her fellow Jayhawks that impacted her career will certainly be cheering her on, and it is that passionate Jayhawk family that initially drew Geubelle to Kansas.
Geubelle grew accustomed to standing atop the podium after a decorated high school career at Curtis Senior High School in University Place, Washington, under coach Nate Wilford. Three state championships in both the long jump and triple jump, gold medals in both events at the 2009 Nike Outdoor Nationals, and a first-place finish in the USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships led to Geubelle being named the 2009 Gatorade Athlete of the Year for the state of Washington. Track & Field News ranked her third in the nation in both jumping events. KU coaches quickly took notice and thought Geubelle could bring something special to the program.
“When I was being recruited, I saw a lot of passion in the coaching staff. They had this strong desire to win and they were just there for the athletes. They weren’t there for themselves,” Geubelle recalled. “I could feel this sense of camaraderie between them and just this excitement that made me really excited to come to KU. I felt like they had this really big drive to win, both individually and with the team.”
Just like that, Geubelle made the 1,000-mile leap from her home in Washington to Lawrence, Kansas. Far away from her parents and two brothers, her fellow Jayhawk athletes and coaches became her family. She developed a particularly special connection with her jumps coach, Wayne Pate.
“His influence was huge. I honestly can’t think of any better jump coaches in the United States. He wasn’t just a coach, though. He was a father figure,” Geubelle explained. “I was over a thousand miles away from home and there were times when I was just in need of someone to talk to and listen. He was that person all the time.”
After a successful freshman season, Geubelle hit what she described as the “typical sophomore slump.” Her confidence was down and she felt that she didn’t perform her best at many of her meets. She spent the offseason leading up to her 2012 junior campaign re-evaluating her efforts in practice.
Pate told her that if she wanted to be as talented as he thought she could be, then she had to put her heart and soul into track and field.
“That’s when it clicked,” Geubelle said. “He pushed me to be the absolute best athlete I could be, and on top of that, I think my team pushed me to work as hard as I could every single day and not leave anything out on the track.”
Geubelle specifically cited the work ethic of former teammate, All-American sprinter Paris Daniels. Geubelle admitted that although she gave her maximum effort at competitions, she did not always take practice as seriously. That is, until she observed the work ethic of Daniels.
Geubelle remembered, “Paris was just a workhorse. I saw what she did everyday and it definitely helped me to put everything into practices, all the time.”
Hard work paid off and 2012 proved to be Geubelle’s breakout year. During the indoor track & field season, she was victorious in either of her events at every meet but two. She claimed her first conference triple jump title at the Big 12 Indoor Championships and carried that momentum into the NCAA Championships two weeks later. There, she hit a personal-best mark of 13.67 meters (44’10¼”) to claim the triple jump national championship. She also earned First Team All-America honors in the long jump with an eighth-place finish to accompany her First Team All-American honors in the triple jump.
Geubelle and her teammates were poised to make a run for a team NCAA outdoor championship after their successful indoor run. She once again claimed the Big 12 title in the triple jump, but fell short at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a third-place finish. As a team, the Jayhawks finished fourth, a result that did not sit well with many of the athletes, Geubelle included. However, Geubelle’s performance earned her an opportunity to compete at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, not even three weeks following the NCAA meet. She struggled to leave her teammates behind, but could not pass up her chance to compete on a bigger stage.
“I just wanted to be with my team. I didn’t want to do much individually after the NCAA Championships,” Geubelle stated. “But Coach Pate really pushed me to just go out and have fun. I was a junior in college going to the Olympic Trials. He kept me from being too stressed out so I could really hone in and enjoy the moment and take in the experience.”
Geubelle enjoyed the moment, indeed, and earned the bronze medal.
Entering her final season as a Jayhawk, Geubelle carried a wealth of experience, knowing both the elation of victory as well as the feeling of disappointment, making her more determined than ever to succeed. After her previous outdoor season did not live up to her own expectations, Geubelle was out to prove that she was one of the best jumpers in the country.
“When I went into the indoor season I just wanted to win everything. And I did,” she proudly claimed.
For the first time in her career, Geubelle claimed the NCAA indoor title in both the long jump and the triple jump. Despite accomplishing what most would consider the pinnacle of success for a collegiate career, something was missing for Geubelle. Although Geubelle enjoyed her individual success, the Jayhawks finished second as a team, leaving her still with an empty feeling.
“I wanted them to enjoy the feeling of winning as well,” Geubelle explained. “I wanted to share the excitement of winning a national championship with everybody.”
A few months later, Geubelle arrived at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, hungry to finally share that winning feeling with her teammates. Things did not exactly go according to plan; Geubelle posted runner-up finishes in both of her events in the first three days of competition, after expecting to earn two victories and the team points accompanying them. However, her teammates rallied and the Jayhawks claimed the NCAA Outdoor Championship, the first in the program’s history. Geubelle remembers that feeling as her all-time favorite moment from her career at Kansas.
“There was nothing that felt better than winning the team title. I was bummed after I got second, but that all faded away the second day when we won the title. I knew I contributed 16 points to that team title,” she recalled. “It’s weird to say, but it was much more fun to win two second-place individual finishes and the team title than it was to win the individual titles.”
Geubelle remained in Lawrence for a year following the conclusion of her collegiate career, training and helping out with the team. However, last fall she tore her patellar tendon, an injury that required surgery and an extended time away from her sport. Jumping had become Geubelle’s life and she struggled to cope with not being able to train and compete.
“It’s not the best feeling to be an athlete and have an injury take it all away from you. I had to identify with myself outside of track and field and re-establish who I was and why I was doing track,” Geubelle explained.
Ultimately, Geubelle decided that moving back home to Washington was what she had to do. Back with her family, she began rehabilitation with the help of her physiatrist and primary care physician. Geubelle quickly discovered both were fellow Jayhawks.
Geubelle’s extended family of Jayhawks executed a quick rehabilitation and she is now back on the track, preparing for her first meet back in May of this year. She trains with her high school coach at Curtis Senior High School and helps coach the young athletes there. She also gives motivational speeches to teams in the area. Being around the kids has definitely aided in her recovery process.
“I don’t like to preach to kids and then not do it myself, so I think it’s held me accountable as well,” Geubelle said. “It made me step back and take a look at what I’ve been doing through my rehab and question whether or not I was putting my best into even the little things, which kind of gets away from you when you’re injured.”
When Geubelle is not on the track, she substitute teaches in the Tahoma School District. She has found that teaching is another outlet in which she can impact the lives of children. She hopes to provide opportunities that inspire kids and push them to be their best.
Nearly two years removed from raising the championship trophy with her Jayhawk teammates, Geubelle remains close with many of them, as well as Coach Pate. Her connection with Pate made her move to Washington that much more difficult, but their relationship remains strong.
“I knew how much he could do for me if I stayed at KU to train, but sometimes you need a change to get things going again. Coach Pate understood that and he still, to this day, stands behind me,” Geubelle stated.
As for the future, Geubelle’s long-term goal is to be a pediatric oncology nurse. After losing her grandmother to cancer, she developed a passion for cancer treatment. That passion, paired with her love of children, makes pediatric oncology seem like a perfect fit. That career path is on hold, however, as Geubelle currently has her sight set on the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016. After showing Kansas fans what she is capable of, there is no doubt that her Olympic dream can become a reality and she has her entire Jayhawk family behind her.