By Ali Mosser
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Baylor freshman Annie Rhodes didn’t have to go far to fulfill her dreams of becoming a collegiate pole vaulter.
After graduating from Midway High School in Waco, Texas, Rhodes knew that she wanted to spend the next four years living just on the other side of Waco as a student-athlete at Baylor University.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Baylor,” Rhodes said. “I love it. I was always really close to my parents, so I like being close to them. I’ve always been a big Baylor fan and it’s kind of been my dream school, so getting to go here is great and being on the track team was even more of a blessing.”
Track and field assistant head coach Danny Brabham knew Rhodes had potential when he saw her vault in high school. Now in his 25th year of coaching track and field at Baylor, Brabham was excited about the possibility of having Rhodes join the Baylor program
“I watched Annie for quite a few years and watched her progressions and knew she was going to be something special,” Brabham said. “If you see these athletes young, you just keep watching until it’s time to officially recruit them and then you go do that. Being a local, it’s pretty easy to find an athlete like Annie because of all the headlines in the paper.”
Rhodes made quite the splash in the track and field world in high school as she won the Texas 4-A pole vault state title as a sophomore in 2010 and recorded the best high school pole vault in the country in 2013 with a jump of 14-0.0.
However, in just a short time at Baylor, Rhodes is already making a name for herself at the collegiate level. Rhodes wasted no time in breaking the Baylor school record in pole vault. At her first collegiate meet, the Texas A&M 10-Team Invitational, Rhodes cleared 13-2.5 [4.03m] and passed the previous school-record mark of 12-6 [3.81m], which was set by Kaleigh Teel in 2008.
“It felt so awesome,” Rhodes said. “Like I said, growing up here, I always knew the Baylor records and always thought it would be cool to go to Baylor and be on the track team and then that happened. I think it was especially cool because it was my first meet and everyone was so supportive.”
Not only is Rhodes breaking records and creating headlines, but she is also bringing a new energy to the Baylor track and field team.
“Annie brings a lot of energy,” said Brabham. “She brings a great attitude every day and I think that attitude carries over to her performance. She’s always in a good mood no matter what.”
Fellow Baylor freshman pole vaulter Chase Hood appreciates the energy Rhodes brings to the team as well.
“Annie has taught me to always stay positive,” Hood said. “Sometimes we both get frustrated and we just remind each other to stay positive.”
Being a part of the track and field team has made a positive impact on Rhodes as well.
“Discipline is a big part of track and field—discipline health-wise, discipline time-management wise and discipline attitude-wise,” said Rhodes. “It’s definitely taught me to eat healthy and manage my time. The coaches emphasize attitude at practice a lot. If you’re down you’re not going to perform as well. You’ve always got to have positive thoughts.”
Still in her first year of collegiate athletics, Rhodes and her coaches have high hopes and lofty goals for her time on the track and field team.
‘’By the time her fourth year is up I think she’ll be a major impact player in the NCAA,” said Brabham. “This year, as a freshman, she’s got a lot to learn because she just moved into collegiate athletics. There are a few things that are above her right now, but she’ll catch those.”
“I definitely would like to be able to place at the Big 12 meet and hopefully make it to nationals,” Rhodes said. “As far as height goes, I want to get somewhere between 14-6 and 15-2. It just depends on how the years progress.”As Rhodes’ future as a collegiate pole-vaulter unfolds, her energy will continue to positively impact her team and lead Rhodes to break more records and reach her lofty goals.