FORT SILL, OK - Former Middleburg High pole vaulter Samantha Stelmaszek giggled when she was asked if track practice was tougher than her U.S. Army boot camp.
“Track practice was definitely tougher,” said Stelmaszek, a 2016 Class 3A pole vault champion for the Broncos under head track coach Craig Martin. “It was 10 times tougher. Track practice and the discipline sure did prepare me to do well in Army boot camp.”
Stelmaszek, who had earned a scholarship to jump at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina, but the college life was not structured enough.
“I was doing things with my life that were not good,” said Stelmaszek. “I went from a 3.75 grade point average to just barely making 3.0 and my pole vaulting was a foot off my state jump of 11 feet, six inches.”
Stelmaszek said God called her to change.
“My parents and myself thought the U.S. Army might be a good idea because of the structure,” said Stelmaszek. “I was a little worried because I’m kind of clumsy, but the whole environment was very good for me.”
Stelmaszek completed her basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri on Thurs., July 19 and is now assigned to Fort Sill in Oklahoma where she is in radar technician school for 40 weeks.
“I don’t know if they know I am a pole vaulter, but I may tell someone and see if I can get back to that in the future,” said Stelmaszek. “I never would have ever thought I would fit in the military, but so far, it has been good for me.”
Stelmaszek noted that the physical part of U.S. Army training was something she handled, but was surprised at the mental conditioning that was required.
“I did not understand some of the little things we did and why we did them,” she said. “As I went along, I figured out that I had to be smart all the time and keep my mental focus just like a tough track meet.”