It’s perhaps the only time at a Rainier High School track and field practice when you will hear the athletes groan.
It is now 30 minutes since practice officially ended and head coach Rob Henry has asked the remaining 10 or so pole vaulters who have stuck around to get in some extra time, to pack things up and head home.
His request is initially met with resistance as none of the students want to leave. Reluctantly, however, they round up all the equipment and call it a day.
“It’s nuts,” Henry said. “I have to chase them off otherwise they’d stay out here.”
It’s not just the pole vaulters though. Throwers, relay team members, all the events seem to have someone sticking around to work on their craft.
When Henry started coaching nearly two decades ago it was difficult to get a high turnout of athletes at a school with Rainier’s smaller enrollment total.
That isn’t the case anymore.
“The kids sell it now,” Henry said about the Class 2B program, which has 60 or so athletes turning out this year. “I used to have to go out into the hallways and recruit. I don’t even have to talk to the kids anymore about coming out for track.”
Not when you have the types of athletes Henry has on this year’s roster promoting the program.
“It’s just a nice big positive atmosphere out here,” said junior Elaina Hansen, who has placed at state the past two seasons in both the 1600 and 3200. “It doesn’t matter what event it is everyone is cheering each other on.”
“There is so much about track that makes it an individual sport,” said sophomore Sophie Beadle, “but there is so much energy out here it is impossible to feel like you’re doing anything as an individual event. No one sticks just to their own events. Everyone is supporting each other. You have this instant reward because you have this entire team behind you.”
Ask any member on the team what events they compete in, and while the answer will change from individual to individual, one aspect of the reply usually remains the same.
“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Henry,” Beadle said. “So whatever he suggests trying, I’ll do it.”
In addition to participating in all three girls relays, Beadle’s plate is chock-full as she competes in the 100, 200, 400 and 800, as well as the triple jump.
She is hardly the only Mountaineer with a full event schedule, as it seems to be a common theme among the team based largely on the coaching staff’s encouragement.
“There is a lot of times where I don’t think I would be good at an event,” said Hansen, who holds the third fastest times in the 2B classification in both the 1600 and 3200 this season, “but coach puts you in it because he has faith in you. That helps with your confidence and makes it easier to go out there and give it a try.”
Giving things a go, however, has not been a problem for this team. During a time when more high school athletes are focusing solely on one sport, Rainier’s roster is littered with three-sport athletes.
Beadle even takes things a step further, competing in four sports.
Since Rainier does not offer girls soccer in the fall, Beadle does cross country. Before track season she plays on the basketball team.
Throughout all three sports she makes nearly daily trips to the Tacoma/Puyallup area to practice with the Washington Premier Football Club, one of the top soccer clubs in the state.
Her schedule usually sees her get done with track around 5:30 p.m. She makes a quick trip home before heading north where soccer practice starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m.
“I usually get home around 10:30 at night. I do my homework then go to bed, and then do it again the next day,” Beadle said. “I’m kind of a busy body so I’d rather do this than anything else.”
Brody Klein is Beadle’s counterpart on the boys team. The sophomore competes in the 100, 300 hurdles, pole vault and long jump in addition running on the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams. In the fall, he played football, in the winter he was a state placer for Rainier’s wrestling team and year-round he is a member of the school’s power-lifting team.
“It’s hard for me to not be active,” Klein said. “I always want to be doing something.”
Tops on that list is the pole vault where Klein has already cleared the 12-foot mark this season, placing him tied for fourth with junior teammate Ethan MacFarland for the fourth best height in the 2B ranks this season.
“This team just has the hardest working kids,” Henry said. “You have to be willing to try. We want the kids trying different things as much as they can out here. Every now and then we will find a diamond in the rough, but no matter how good they are they’re always going to get something out of track – one way or another.”