Although sophomore Maria Heckman has broken the women's pole vault record (3.8m) at Wright State three times now, she admitted that she wasn't always successful with the sport and had to work really hard to reach the skill set where she is today.
“I was never good at it to start, I just kind of stuck with it,” Heckman said. “Going into my junior year (high school) I started going to an indoor clinic at Miami East High School. I went there all winter and that was the year I really hit my peak. I went from 9.6 to 11.8 (feet) in one year.”
Heckman claims she was proud when she broke the pole vault record at WSU as a freshman while competing at Ball State in 2016 (3.64m), but was more excited when she recently broke her personal record at the RedHawk Invitational on April 29.
“I was excited, but it wasn't a personal record for me so I wasn't like ecstatic,” Heckman said about her first record. “You're always competing against your past marks and your own ability; That motivates me. Wondering what my full potential is because I don't think that I've reached it yet.”
While growing up in Minster, Ohio, Heckman competed in sports like softball, volleyball and basketball. As a teenager in middle school, she was inspired by her older brother, Steve, who pole vaulted so she began competing in track and field events during seventh grade.
“I wasn't very good at softball and I wanted to try pole vault,” Heckman said. “It was the most challenging event. It's individual and it's a big adrenaline rush.”
As a 4.0 student in the Accounting and Finance program, Wright State stood out to Heckman over schools like Ashland, Xavier and Dayton because of academic aspects and the relationship she formed with head coach Rick Williamson. She acknowledged how a conversation with then head coach Fabien Corbillon at the state competition her senior year assisted her decision to become a Raider. While attempting a personal record, her pole broke, but she got back up and tried to vault again with a different pole.
“I had so much adrenaline going because I wanted to win,” Heckman said. “He came up to me and said, ‘I want you on my team,' and that meant a lot to me. I really saw the commitment from the coaches here and I liked that.”
While Heckman works to complete her education at Wright State, she interns at Phelan Insurance Agency as an insurance agent during the summer. She claims that the opportunity is somewhat like her dream job as she compared it to track and field.
“Just like track is individual. You are your own detriment or improvement to your own success. It's all up to you,” Heckman said.
As The Horizon League Championships at Youngstown State begin on May 5, Heckman will look to improve and reach her goals of pole vaulting 13 feet (3.96m) and advancing to the national competitions.