Road to State interview: Dutch Fork's Dylan Cooper aiming for vault title

Full name: Dylan Cooper
Date of birth: May 21, 1993
Hobbies: I enjoy fishing and sailing. Pretty much if I'm on the lake, I'm having a good time. I also enjoy basketball.
Academic interests: Brothers/sisters: I have three brothers, 25, 23 and 19, and the 19 year old brother has a twin sister.
I like psychology class and I think I'm going to pursue a college degree in that. I also may double major in marketing in college.
Personal bests: In pole vaulting my meet record is 14’7” but in practice I've done 15’9”

scrunners: When did you start to get involved in track and field? 

cooper: I thought about joining track in the sixth grade but actually started my eighth grade year. But I've always been fast and would play tag with the neighborhood kids when I was younger.

scrunners: Do you remember your first meet, please explain?
cooper: I do remember my first meet, but only because of how bad I did.  I was in the eighth grade and it was a Saturday meet. The opening height was eight feet and I no heighted (or didn’t clear anything). I also remember that I didn’t want to wear the short uniform shorts so I warmed up in my jeans.

scrunners: Do you play any other sports?
cooper: I used to take taekwondo but other than that, no official sport.
scrunners: What made you decide to get into track and field?
cooper: I knew I wanted to play a sport, but I didn’t know what. I wanted to be unique in my family so I decided to pole vault. I kind of started it as a joke, but I got hooked and here I am.
scrunners: Do you or did you have any family members participate in the sport?
cooper: My immediate family wasn’t big on sports, so I was the first to pursue a high school career in them, much less in pole vaulting. 

scrunners: What did you think of Saturday at qualifier?
cooper: It was extremely windy, but for me it was a tail wind. Over all I thought that the competition had stepped up from last year and was surprised at the improvement made by some individuals.
scrunners: How do you feel this has prepared for state?
cooper: I know now that state is going to be competitive and its going to be a huge accomplishment this year to win a ring.

scrunners: Do you have any specific goals for state?
cooper: I have a height in mind that I've been working towards all year to clear. But I don’t want to jinx myself so I'm keeping that secret. But overall, a state ring is what I'm going for. 

scrunners: Over the years, how you have seen yourself and the sport progress?
cooper: Everything about me has changed since I started. My running and technique has changed drastically, and I blame my coach Rusty Shealy for all of it. I never noticed the best vaulters when I started because I was always out by the time they started, but just recently it seems like more people are trying to pole vault.
scrunners: What experience did you collect from your first state meet that will help you this year and has helped in the past?
cooper: My first state meet was last year. I think its taught me to be more relaxed at the big competitions and to just do what I do. 

scrunners: What kind of challenges have you encountered as an athlete?
cooper: My main challenges have been hitting my personal walls. Almost every vaulter can tell your that certain heights are harder to clear as you progress. Thirteen feet was a huge one for me, and I was ecstatic when I finally cleared it. However, my freshman year my grandfather passed while I was at one of my track meets. Because it was during the season I wasn’t able to be with him as much as I would’ve liked too before his passing. I got the call just as I left the meet and it hit me pretty hard. I guess I took my emotions and put them into improving my vaulting, and for a while he was my main motivation.
scrunners: How do you balance athletic and other responsibilities?
cooper: It's really tough once season starts to stay on top of everything, but the best way I've found is to manage my time and have set times for practice, school, and fun.  

scrunners: What keeps you motivated on a daily basis?
cooper: I think my main motivation is just the love of the sport. Pole vaulting is a lot of fun and when you do good it's addicting. Also, the thought of vaulting in college, especially for scholarships keeps me going.

scrunners: Do you have a pre-meet tradition?
cooper: Before each meet, I sit in my truck by myself and listen to Dave Matthews Band. It helps calm me and I try to visualize, plus it's my favorite band.
scrunners: Do you see yourself coming back in the future to be a coach?
cooper: I've thought about becoming a coach and personally would love to, but I'm not sure if I'm the best at teaching.

scrunners: What do you look for in a coach and what do you expect a coach to look for in you?
cooper: I want my coach to pay attention to me when Im vaulting and be supportive. I would expect a coach to want me to be a leader and supportive of the team. I think Dutch Fork’s head coach Brian Mincel does a great job at getting the team to support each other. 

scrunners: What do you recommend to younger athletes to achieve their best?
cooper: Perseverance is mandatory. I believe that if you are young enough, you can be anything you want to be as long as you put enough time and commitment into it.  

scrunners: If there is one thing in the world you could do it and why?
cooper: I would probably just want to go fishing and sailing and not have to worry about a thing.