What she lacks in height pole vaulter and Olympic hopeful Emily Presley more than makes up for in power and motivation.
At 5’ 2”, Presley isn’t as tall as many of her competitors, an early coach saw the potential for an excellent pole vaulter in the young sprinter and gave her a chance. Always a well-rounded athlete, Presley enjoyed early success in the pole vault event, In her junior year, coached by Jim Juergens, she broke the high school state record and suddenly, she says, her path to college was clear.
Presley’s path led her to Missouri Southern State University (MS) where she earned Central Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, ranking first in the nation at 4.30m (14-1.25”). Working with Missouri Southern’s Bryan Schiding, she also put up four marks on the NCAA D-II all-time chart, including her personal best which ranked her as the fifth best indoor performer. She graduated from MS last year with a degree in Kinisiology and a minor in Business.
With her NCAA eligibility behind her, and COVID closing her typical training venues and cancelling many opportunities to compete, Presley was intrigued to learn about a unique position at SPIRE as a house parent. She investigated the opportunity, applied, and was interviewed– eventually accepting an offer from SPIRE. Now on campus for the past several months, Presley says her new position allows her to mentor young women athletes while training with a well-respected coach within a COVID-safe bubble.
As a house parent, Presley mentors and encourages the women athletes who live in one of the five newly constructed residential houses on campus. Designed for 6-12 students, each residence has a house parent apartment that adjoins a lounge area with a large screen TV and other items for students’ use during their relaxation time. Although the house has a kitchen, Presley, who eats a vegan diet, and the young women athletes with whom she shares the house, eat most of their meals at the SPIRE Fuel cafeteria, where she says the chef takes care to balance the athletes nutritional needs.
Presley is now training with SPIRE’s Track and Field Training and Development Director Tim Mack. Coach Mack, a highly respected pole-vaulting legend, has more than 25 years of track and field experience during which he was an SEC, NCAA and USA Track and Field champion. One of only 18 pole vaulters in history to clear 6.01 meters or higher, Mack earned a gold medal for the United States Olympic team in 2004.
Over the years, Coach Mack helped develop multiple young male and female athletes through Tennessee to state championships. He recently coached Kelsie Ahbe, Canada’s top finisher in the women’s pole vault at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. While attending Indiana University, Ahbe was a two-time All-American and runner-up at the 2014 NCAA Championships where she set a Hoosier’s record.