The UC San Diego track and field team has enjoyed another outstanding year, with several top performers heading into the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships on May 3-5. Last season, pole vaulter Madeleine Flint won the CCAA Championship and set a new UCSD record with a height of 12’0.05”, earning All-CCAA First-Team honors in the process. The Redwood City native went on to finish ninth at the NCAA Championships. Flint also has excelled in the classroom, being named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic and CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine All-District Eight teams. Flint recently took time from her busy schedule to discuss her life as a student-athlete at UC San Diego.
Q- How did you get started in the event of Pole Vault?
FLINT - Well, I wanted to play a sport in high school, so I tried out for the tennis team. Except I had never played tennis before, and didn’t make it. Cross country was no-cut, so I joined that, and really enjoyed it. I introduced my dad to the coach at the end of the season, and mentioned that he had vaulted in college. My coach told me that we needed a new vaulter, so I started. My dad was so excited that we drove the next weekend to Santa Cruz to buy some giant bamboo “poles” (they used to vault on bamboo in the early days). My dad started coaching me during my junior year, and it used to drive me crazy... “Hey Madeleine, let’s watch some video!”. “Dad, its Friday night! Can we do it some other time?” I learned a lot.
Q- What are some of your top Pole Vaulting memories?
FLINT - I have a memory from almost every vault practice. Cross-bars do interesting things to people when they’re knocked down. Specifically, every year about 2000 vaulters go to a summit in Reno to work on technique and watch the elite competition. There is always someone vaulting in a tuxedo or superman outfit. All of the CCAA conferences have been a blast, especially my sophomore year when we won over Chico by a half a point. It really made everyone on the team feel like they were the reason we won (and they all were). Winning the pole vault competition at CCAA’s last year, and going to NCAA’s was amazing. I’ve never felt so focused. The team also does a lot of bonding activities, and those are always fun.
Q- How has the UCSD coaching staff helped to improve you?
FLINT - We have a great coaching staff. Creed Stary is my pole vault coach, and he’s built my current technique from the ground up. He is the school record holder in the pole vault, and it’s great to have someone who really understands what they are coaching. Darcy Ahner does the conditioning work, and I have become much stronger and faster during my four years. Having great technique doesn’t matter if you don’t have speed and strength.
Q- What do you plan to do after graduation?
FLINT - I’m planning on going to graduate school in Structural Engineering in 2008, which means that I have a year break. One of my high school friends and I are going backpacking in Eastern Europe for a few weeks, and then I’ll have to get a job. I’m hoping to stay in San Diego. The vaulters have a tradition of recent grads continuing on as assistant coaches, and it would be great to help out with the meets.
Q- What types of weekly workouts do you do?
FLINT - During the pre-season, we vault three times a week, lift three times a week, and run five days a week (for a total of six workout days). For running we do intervals, sprints, hills, circuits, and stadiums. We do a lot of Olympic lifts in the weight room (especially cleans), and a lot of hamstring work. It can be a bit crazy to schedule it all, but we seem to peak exactly when we should.
Q- Who do you consider the funniest on the team and the smartest?
FLINT - I’m going to dodge this question, because with 100 people on the team, there are about 30 smart people, 30 funny people, and 40 people who are both smart and funny. It doesn’t seem fair to pick just one.
Q- Are there any funny stories you can share involving the team?
FLINT - Every year freshmen on the team have an option to perform a skit, and these usually make me cry. At least one always involves some sort of dance-off, and those are hilariously awkward. When I was a freshman, we held the skits in the common room of an off-campus apartment complex. A skit involving a “talent show”, where the talent was carted offstage after a poor performance, got a little overzealous. The “bouncer” went to haul a “singer” offstage, and they ended up going through the drywall. Needless to say, the next year we held the skits in the Green Room at RIMAC.
Q- Why did you choose to attend UCSD?
FLINT - I applied as a biology major, and then took AP Bio and decided that it wasn’t for me. I have always liked architecture, but hadn’t applied to any schools with programs. So, structural engineering seemed pretty close, and Dean Seible convinced me that UCSD’s program was the best at Scholar’s Day. I’m probably one of the last people on the team who walked on. I suppose I was rather naïve about making the team, seeing how competitive it has become. I love the fact that as a non-scholarship school, everyone out on the track wants to be there. The attitude is amazing.
Q- What has been your favorite class at UCSD?
FLINT - Although I’ve enjoyed most of my structural engineering classes, I would have to say Math 20E, Vector Calculus. It was probably the last time I learned something completely new and different, rather than an extension of previously learned concepts. I wish I could travel backward in time and hang out with Gauss while he was figuring all of that stuff out.
Q- How do you like to spend your days during the offseason or when you do not have practice?
FLINT - Every year I fool myself into thinking that I’m going to go to the beach all the time, but it never seems to happen. If you ever see me walking around campus, I’m probably tripping while trying to read an article of the New Yorker on the way to class. I like creative things, like sewing my own clothes, or painting. I also make really good banana bread.
Previous Q&A Articles
Leah Llach (Women's Crew) April 22, 2007
Natalie Hockett (Women's Water Polo) April 9, 2007
Jenny Maze (women's softball) April 2, 2007
Zach Johnson (Men's Crew Head Coach) March 18, 2007
Michelle Osier (Women's Basketball) March 7, 2007
Brooks Dierdorff (Men's Volleyball) March 1, 2007
Scott Clement (Baseball) February 15, 2007
Chelsea Ambort (Women's Fencing) January 29, 2007
Meaghan Noud (Women's Basketball) January 15, 2006
Susan Bell (Women's Swimming) January 6, 2007
Tim Fuller (Men's Swimming) December 20, 2006
Alexis Mezzetta (Women's Basketball) December 10, 2006
Clint Allard (Men's Basketball) November 30, 2006
Kristin Halvorsen (Women's Volleyball) November 18, 2006
Adnan Jerkovic (Men's Water Polo (November 1, 2006)
Caitlin Ryan (Women's Soccer) October 24, 2006
Amber Ries (Women's Volleyball) Sep. 24, 2006