ASU pole vaulter traded the floor and beam for track and field

Averie Brook transitioned to pole vault after spending two years on the gymnastics team in search of something new

Senior pole vaulter Averie Brook always dreamed of becoming a collegiate gymnast growing up. However, after years of competing in gymnastics and two years as an ASU gymnast, Brook wanted a change. 

"I spent all of my free time practicing gymnastics at my gym when I was younger," Brook said. "It was a big investment, but I wouldn't have changed anything. I loved it so much."

Brook always enjoyed performing, and when she arrived at the then-named Wells Fargo Arena in 2017, it was a "memory that I have remembered clearly; my parents were there and I wasn't even nervous because I had dreamed of this moment my whole life, and I knew I was ready and I was so excited with my team."

After years of "putting on uniforms and sparkles and hair," Brook decided to change sports after her sophomore year of college and become a pole vaulter, something she had never tried before. 

"My brother (Hunter) was a decathlete at Baylor and I was just kind of throwing ideas around trying to figure out what else I could do, and he was like, 'Well, gymnasts usually make pretty good pole vaulters,'" Brook said.

Brook met Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Nick Hysong in the summer of 2018 and started training at RISEN Performance in Arizona. "He kind of took me under his wing and allowed me the opportunity to work with his elite training group," Brook said.

"She started out like any beginner would, but her persistence and work ethic helped her progress quickly," Hysong said. "We set a tough goal to get her up to an experienced high school level within a year and were hoping that would afford her a spot on the University’s team."

For the entirety of Brook's junior year, she trained with Hysong and was not a part of ASU athletics, a transition she called "interesting."

However, she joined ASU's track team a year ago under volunteer pole vault coach Ron Barela. She said she feels like she is "back home."

"I feel like even though I had bigger goals and dreams that I wanted to accomplish in the pole vault and still do, I just felt like I just was getting started on that journey and was just back with my ASU athletic family," Brook said.

Brook described her relationship with Barela as "amazing" and said he comes into practice every day with "incredible drive and resilience."

"I just wanted to give her the opportunity," Barela said. "She had a very limited skill set and a gymnastics background, but she just brings a wonderful energy to the club and she's incredibly persistent."

Brook credits her time with Barela and Hysong for her improving ability in the pole vault in just under three years. 

"(Barela) he makes it enjoyable," Brook said. "Coach B is one of my biggest mentors and one of the biggest helps that I've had within track and field. So I owe everything to him. He's been one of the most amazing coaches I've ever had."

Brook has also experienced challenges with changing sports in the middle of her college career, experiencing frequent periods of self-doubt. Despite those challenges, Brook was not going to get in her own head, saying she "came in a student-athlete" and "wanted to graduate as a student-athlete." 

"I knew that even through the hard days and hard training and practices, I know that it would all be worth it," Brook said. 

Brook does not miss gymnastics, and although she "cherishes" her time as a gymnast, she said she "fulfilled every goal and aspiration that I wanted to within the sport."

Brook is in her last year of eligibility as a fifth-year senior and has competed in five meets for ASU track and field. Her personal best came at the Texas Tech Invitational in January, where she cleared a height of 3.71 meters.

"I would just say being a D1 athlete was just one of my biggest dreams and so the ability to compete in it and be involved in it is so special and I mean, I can't even put words to it," Brook said. "It's an honor to be at Arizona State and representing the Sun Devils in any and every way and I've had the opportunity to do it in two sports that are so different."


Reach the reporter at lhertz@asu.edu and follow @laurenrachell_ on Twitter. 

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