The DeSoto Central High School track team is getting an extra boost this spring in one event from someone who knows what it takes to be an elite competitor. “Been there, done that,” as they say.
Lyndsey Acree etched her mark in the DeSoto Central and state track record books when she competed in pole vault, hurdles and in relays before she graduated and then was a pole vaulter at Ole Miss.
Today, a dietetic intern working with local hospitals as she readies to become a dietician, Acree is volunteering her time as pole vault coach to seven boys and three girls on the Jaguar and Lady Jag track teams.
The connection with coach Danny Jansen and Acree began with Lyndsey wanting to donate her pole vault equipment when she finished her college career.
“She sent me a message saying she had some equipment she wanted to donate, some poles and stuff,” Jansen said. “We’re talking about $3,000 worth of equipment. I asked if she wanted to work with the pole vaulters and she said, ‘I’d love to.’ The next day she was already out here, handing them workout sheets, colored folders, everything they needed to do. She was real specific and professional about it.”
“I come twice a week, sometimes three times a week,” Acree added. “It’s usually Tuesdays and Thursdays and I’ll donate Saturdays to come to meets. I’m doing it as a volunteer, but I’m their ‘head coach’ technically for pole vaulters.”
Acree set the state record in the pole vault as a junior, when she vaulted 11-feet, six-inches to win the MHSAA 6A state title. She was a state runner up as a sophomore and again as a senior before she continued her career at Ole Miss.
It is her background and detail in a sport where detail and technique are imperative that Acree brings to the field event, Jansen said.
“They (pole vaulters) haven’t really been properly coached in technique and everything and now we have somebody who is a state champion, former record holder and Ole Miss pole vaulter to come out and get with them on technique,” Jansen said. “Already at this point we had only been practicing for a few weeks and they’re all clearing eight feet pretty easily. Like in any other sport, technique has a lot to do with it.”
“It’s a very independent sport,” Acree said about her event. “You have to be self-driven and really put in the time and effort and if you don’t do that, you are not successful. If you are not self-driven, you won’t be good.”
Jansen said Acree immediately addressed technique when she started coaching the pole vaulters.
“The biggest thing they’ve learned so far is how to get their feet up and turn when they vault,” Jansen said
“Over my seven years, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about pole vaulting,” Acree pointed out. “I have little tricks and ways to fix things that they don’t know about and it’s helped them drastically. I think everyone of our 10 pole vaulters will exceed their expectations by far.”
Lyndsey also gets help and suggestions from her dad, Bob, who can be seen around the pit setting the bar and making needed adjustments for the pole vaulters.
But Lyndsey is in charge and definitely knows what she is doing when it comes to her special sport.
“I graduated from here in 2013, I was the state champion in 2012, I was an All-State member every year that I ran track here,” Acree pointed out. “I think my entire high school career here was something special because I was not expecting to be going to college for pole vault, but I got good because I put in that time and effort and was very determined to get good.”
All that along with a $3,000 pole vault donation makes for a nice addition to the DeSoto Central track team this spring.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.