July 27, 2014
Sarah Bell just wrapped up her freshman year at Vanderbilt. The three-time high school state champion and six-time high school All-American leapt into the Commodore record books. In May, at the SEC Championships, the Bloomington, Ill., native earned All-SEC Freshman honors when she took fifth place in the pole vault. In the process, she set a school record with a mark of 13-1.5. She was one of nine VU athletes to reach the NCAA East Regional.
Commodore Nation: Your major is medicine, health and society. What are your plans with that major?
Sarah Bell: Just being an athlete, the body just fascinates me – how it works, how everything moves. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do but I know that some kind of health science is definitely what I’m interested and what I want to pursue later in life. I’m working on a minor in business just in case I want to do health administration or pharmaceutical sales.
CN: On the track, have you surprised yourself this year?
Bell: I have surprised myself. I know my goal this year was to just come into the SEC and let everybody know I’m here and I’m hungry for the competition. I want to compete. Placing fifth (at the SEC Championships) I felt like I put myself in that position. Just place myself in a spot where that I can compete in the SEC and I can score points for our team, especially as a freshman.
CN: What does it mean to have a school record already, just one year into it?
Bell: It definitely means a lot just to know I jumped the highest mark in this school’s history. It is definitely something I honor and cherish and something I definitely will not take for granted, because that is a very big deal for me. I’m very thankful and grateful to have been able to accomplish that.
CN: What is the trick to the pole vault?
Bell: To be a good pole vaulter, you need to have speed on the runway and you need to have upper body strength to be able to handle yourself and control the whole movement in the air and over the bar. Gaining muscle and working on speed just definitely helps throughout the year.
CN: What do you enjoy the most about the sport?
Bell: It is an escape from everything else. Once I’m on the runway and I’m pole vaulting everything else doesn’t matter no matter what’s happening. It’s just me and the pole once you’re in the air that is also that matters at that point in time. The whole sport has been my life for the last couple years and definitely helped me to become the person I am.
CN: To have both your parents coach you in high school was a benefit? (Bell’s mother, Mary Jo, coached her in track and golf at Central Catholic High and her father, Michael, was her pole vault coach.)
Bell: They both have had an impact and influence on me. It is something I can share with them outside of just them being my parents. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them. They have been everything. They’ve supported me through my ups and my downs. This sport can definitely be a roller coaster ride. Just mentally and physically it can really get to you. They’ve been there. They’ve been my support system.