By T.J. Brinkerhoff
Action is the name that Becky Jackson goes by among her pole-vaulting pupils.
The nickname may reasonably be derived from her intense involvement in the sport of track and field.
During her career at BYU she competed in the 55m, 100m, 200m and 400m hurdle events, not to mention the pole-vault.
Jackson was originally recruited to BYU to compete in hurdle events.
As a state champion in the 300m hurdles in 1994 and a national finalist in the 55m hurdles at the Simplot Indoor Games in 1995, Jackson possessed the kind credentials that BYU was looking for.
She became a Cougar and participated in the 1996 NCAA track and field season, competing in the hurdle events that she had spent years refining.
But in 1998, when pole-vaulting was introduced by the NCAA as a women’s sport, Jackson was asked if she would be willing to take up the event.
“I was able to just pick it up,” Jackson said.
She said some of her success in the sport was due to the fact that she did not have a lot of time to acquire poor technique.
“Pole-vaulting is an event that requires a lot of technique and it is easy for people to develop some bad habits, especially at the high school level,” Jackson said.
She was able to avoid some of that.
So well, in fact, that in her first year of competition she garnered All-American honors.
She also posted a BYU and a conference record in the event when she cleared the height of 13 feet 1/4 inch.
This past summer she competed at the Olympic trials, but did not make the Olympic team.
Jackson is pursuing a Masters degree in health promotion.
She is also helping out as a coach to a new, young crop of pole-vaulters.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to stay involved in the sport without having to spend every minute of my day working out to get ready to compete,” she said.
“But I will miss competition.”
One of Jackson’s young up-and-comering players is Melissa Dyer, a freshman from Littleton, Colo.
She too took up the sport in 1998 when it was offered as a women’s sport at the high school level.
“When I came to BYU I didn’t want to give up the pole-vaulting,” Dyer said.
“I hope that I’ll be able to eventually get a scholarship and compete for four years on the team.”
Dyer, who was also a multitalented track athlete in high school, is finding that Jackson’s tutelage has been very valuable to her development as a pole-vaulter.
“Becky is really helpful because she has competed for four years in pole-vaulting, she is very motivational,” Dyer said.
“It’s helpful to know that Becky has been through it.”
Jackson is confident that her students will become proficient pole-vaulters.
“The indoor season may be a little rough this year because we are so young,” Jackson said.
“But the indoor season will give us an idea of who will compete in the event for the outdoor season and I’m positive that some of these girls will definitely come through and really claim the event.”
The indoor track season begins in January and the outdoor season starts in March.