Pole Vault Coach Transforms Keller Backyard to Help Athletes Chase Dreams

In a corner lot, in a quiet neighborhood in Keller, high school students are flying through the air - and flying past their own expectations

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A local coach who specializes in pole vault has completely transformed his home to help teach young athletes the sport he loves.

"It's like having a golf course, if you're a golfer, in your backyard, or living on the lake if you're a fisherman. The kids have a ball with this and are having fun," said Hal Theodore. "When other kids are seeing them having fun, they want to know what's up. Then they start asking questions and they want to try it out and jump."

What the kids want to try out is Theodore's personal, self-made tribute to the sport he loves: pole vaulting.

With a runway, crossbar and pit laid out across the lot next door to his Keller home -- the lot costing enough to require a loan from the local bank about 20 years ago -- a passion for the sport makes it feel like it was worth every penny.

"For anybody who's ever watched it, I don't need to say anything," Theodore said. "If you've seen it, you know you've got people who are just nuts. We're all nuts who are involved in this."

That commitment attracted the attention of high school vaulters from around North Texas. Now, students come from Flower Mound, Arlington and as far as Whitesboro to learn from and work at coach Theodore's pole vault paradise.

It's a process and quirky set-up that has proven it works for the retired longtime middle school coach.

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"It's always worked," said Evie Guckes, a Keller Timber Creek High School student who is one of Theodore's athletes. "I love this runway. Out of all the runways I've jumped on, this one is the one I feel like where I jump the best."

Athletes jumping their best, not needing the glitz and glam of top-notch athletic facilities so common now in high schools, but still getting results that include Theodore's top students now pole vaulting at college programs like Alabama, Arkansas and Baylor.

"He's shaped me into the vaulter I am today, and he's always made me feel like we're a family here," Guckes said. "He's created this incredible community of pole vaulters."
"I guess they all come with the dream, and I'm just having fun," Theodore said.

Just having fun, and just teaching kids the sport he loves on a corner lot in a quiet neighborhood in Keller, with Theodore feeling he is the one is blessed while watching kids pole vault beyond their own expectations.

"I'm the luckiest guy," Theodore said. "I'm the luckiest guy there is."

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