Getting to Know: Track & Field's Kate Collins
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Discuss the state of the women's pole vault in the Big South.

During my senior year in high school when I was being recruited, I checked out the Big South results for 2008 and 2009.  Most of the women's champions were jumping around 11 feet – a couple of 11’3” – but nothing higher.  In just 3 years, the Big South has had champions clearing 12 feet quite regularly.  In every Big South Championship in which I have competed, at least three or four women could easily have won.  It just depends on who is jumping well that day.  I think that kind of competition makes every championship exciting and easy to get ready for the meet.  I like a competitive atmosphere.

Why do you feel VMI pole vaulting has – "taken off" – over the last 3-4 years?

I think pole vaulting has ‘taken off’ at VMI because we have a group that works together.  Pole vaulting is a very different experience than most other track and field events.  It requires both strength and speed.  It requires great muscle memory and body control.  Without a group to work with, I think vaulting is difficult because feedback is so important.  While Coach gives us great feedback, some times it’s easier to see what someone else is doing and make your own adjustments.  When you see someone else doing what you are trying to do, then I think your learning accelerates.  I think we (the VMI pole vaulters) have learned from each other.

Looking back at VMI – Can you believe you have just six months left?

Actually, I have another year left of eligibility after this spring and am planning to come back for a 5th year.  I was injured during the indoor season of my sophomore year and only jumped that indoor season and red-shirted during the outdoor season.  I will red-shirt this indoor season. 

Why did you choose VMI?

The major reason I chose VMI was the track and field coaches, Coach Scott and Coach Webb, and the team. I visited at least 5 other Division I schools and didn’t feel the connection that I felt when I visited VMI. The team members that I met on my visit made my feel welcomed.  I was impressed that the head coach, Coach Webb, was a pole vaulter.  In addition, I appreciated the structure that VMI offers.  I knew that if I were going to be a successful student-athlete then I would need structure and support.  Finally, I was interested in the challenge – I wanted to do something out of the ordinary.

Can you share a particularly good VMI memory, your “best”, as it were?

I have some GREAT track and field memories, but my best VMI memory has to be the 4 days in September when I went on the 80-mile march.  I loved that I marched with the 18 guys in my class to New Market.  I was proud to carry the women’s shoulder boards to the cadet oath ceremony.  

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

I’m looking forward to the outdoor season.  I hope that I’ll be able to jump in a few meets during the indoor season as an ‘unattached vaulter’, but am aiming to be ready for outdoor.   My goals are always the same – to jump higher.  If I can get stronger and get on bigger poles, then good things will happen.

How do you feel about the team as a whole?

I think we have a really strong team this year.  We have a lot of young talent and I have high hopes that come conference time that they will be ready.  The team is working hard and we are anxious for the first meet.

If you could eat a meal with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?

My first two meals would be with my two grandfathers.  One grandfather died before I was born, so I would love to get to know him.  My mom tells me that I have his tenacity.  I think we would get along well.  My other grandfather died when I was 11, so I would love to tell him all about life at VMI. My third choice would be Sacagawea.  I think her journey with Lewis and Clark was remarkable.