CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Just a few minutes outside Taft, Texas, sits a barn; a white, metal barn. It is a building that most people would drive past and not notice. But for pole vaulters in the Coastal Bend, this is their gym.
Yes, in a large barn outside of Taft, Texas, some of the best young pole vaulters in the area are launching themselves skyward and honing their craft under the tutelage of former all-American Greg West.
"Back in my day this was unheard of," West said.
West coaches about 20 athletes ranging from high school to college on Tuesday and Thursday nights. How the barn came into his possession is simpler than one might suspect. It was offered to him by the father of one of his former athletes.
"He asked me if I wanted to use the barn and I said heck yeah."
For the most part, the barn is just a like regular gym. There is a runway for the pole vaulters to get their speed, the stand on which the pole sits and of course the mat on which the athletes land. Just a normal gym... if you ignore the massive John Deere tractors and other farming equipment that occupies about three quarters of the space.
The barn helps with one big factor: the weather.
"If it is cold outside or raining outside then we can still practice," West said.
The sport of pole vaulting is not for the faint of heart. The athletes are sprinting down a runway with 15 foot pole in hand as they prepare to launch themselves high into the air.
"You can go 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 feet into the air," West said.
For the athletes, they put the fear of the height in which they must surpass behind them and conquer the bar. Once they do it, a feeling unlike any other.
"It is scary," sophmore vaulter Bella Coscetti said. "But once you do it, it is awesome."
Each athlete is at a certain level in their training, West patient with each as they learn to take to the skies, in a barn, outside Taft, Texas... who would have thought.