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2012 Summit–Ship Winner
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Coach Fernando Hernandez is the 2012 Jeff Truman Pole Vault Summit–Ship winner!
And The Winner Is…

Sometimes we find what (or in this case, “who”) we are seeking right in our own backyard. This year, OnTrack is proud to present Coach Fernando Hernandez of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Calif., the 2012 winner of the Jeff Truman Memorial Summit-Ship. He is also one of the fortunate few Summit-Ship winners who can actually say they knew our award’s namesake.

In recognition of his thirst for continuing pole vault education, OnTrack will send Coach Hernandez to the annual Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., the annual development clinic sponsored by the North American Pole Vault Association (NAPVA) and UCS/Spirit. He will be presented to his peers at the Association’s Hall of Fame dinner, his travel and accommodations courtesy of OnTrack, with Summit registration underwritten by Summit organizers.

Coach Hernandez (“Fernie” to his friends) describes himself as a self–taught 10’6”high school vaulter who started out playing football and basketball, and became involved in track and field when he was cut from the Cantwell High School baseball team and needed a spring sport to keep him busy. “I guess I became a pole vault coach because I didn’t have one in high school,”saysCoach Hernandez, echoing many who instruct youngsters in the event.

Following graduation from the University of Southern California, Coach Hernandez accepted a teaching position at his high school alma mater in Montebello, Calif. He also served as the head track coach. In 1982, Coach Hernandez moved down the freeway to Loyola High School to provide coaching services in the pole vault, shot put and discus. He would eventually be hired on to teach and to take the helm as head coach at the all–boys school, where today he instructs students in health and physical education, and focuses on the vault. He also assists with the throwers, and coaches the school’s football team.

Philip Molebash—Coach Hernandez’s assistant pole vault coach, and one of his colleagues to nominate him for this year’s award—estimates that over Fernie’s 36 years of coaching, he has worked with hundreds of vaulters, many of whom have become league, CIF and state qualifiers and finalists. “He has coached three high school vaulters who have cleared 16 feet, and Loyola’s school pole vault record is 16–2. Fernie has helped many other vaulters jump over 14 and 15 feet.”

It is a testament to his coaching consistency that, over the past 10 years, Coach Hernandez has seen his athletes finish second, third, fifth and sixth in the pole vault at the California state meet. Over all, his coaching staff has produced five track and field CIF runners–up and eight CIF championship teams, and most recently the California State runner–up championship team in 2011. Last year also marked a highlight in Loyola’s proud athletic history, when the school brought home the prestigious Nike National Track and Field National Championship title.

Currently working with 13 vaulters, Coach Hernandez cites international pole vault “guru” Alan Launder—proponent of the famous “Petrov model”of coaching and frequent Summit speaker—as his greatest coaching influence. He also credits much of his coaching development to his own involvement with the Summit, having made the Reno pilgrimage every year since 1987.

So, what is Coach Hernandez’ advice to the aspiring pole vault coach? “Try to be patient, be open and don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Keeping in mind that the focus should always be on the individual being coached, he observes: “Sometimes I can only get my athletes so far, and then another coach can come along and take them even further.”He acknowledges this as a unique strength of the pole vault community, a culture that encourages coaches to collaborate to help achieve a vaulter’s ultimate success.

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