Athlete of the Week: Emma Gall

Jasmine McIntosh, Assistant Editor

Senior Emma Gall enjoys many things about track and field, but she especially loves the feeling of clearing the pole vault bar and achieving a new personal best. Gall is a pole vaulter and sprinter on the varsity track team at La Salle and has been participating since her freshman year. Outside of school, Gall is on a club track team, the Willamette Striders.

Aside from reaching new heights in pole vault, Gall’s favorite part of track is hanging out with her teammates, which she gets to do “just waiting to jump or just in between events,” she said. 

Gall found her way onto the track team through her friends. “I started because I didn’t enjoy dancing anymore and I wanted something to do and I knew that my friends were doing it, so I just followed along,” she said. 

One of those friends was senior Madeline Obuchowski, another pole vaulter and sprinter on the team, whom Gall has found much motivation from. “She’s very encouraging, especially when you’re not in the right headspace,” Gall said. “She can encourage you to just keep going.” Another inspirational person in Gall’s track career has been her club team coach, Rick Baggett. Gall says that Baggett has, “encouraged her from day one.”

Looking to a larger stage, one of Gall’s favorite pole vaulters is Katie Moon, an Olympic and World Championships gold medalist. “I heard her speak at a meet about the mental health side of pole vault, and I think that’s really important,” Gall said.

Out of all the tracks she has competed at, Gall’s favorites are Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, and her club team’s facility. “Hayward has been the most special, but just at my club has also just been fun,” Gall said. 

This year, Gall hopes to clear 11 feet in pole vault, and she is aiming to break the school record, which is 11 feet and nine inches. Gall also wants to go to the state competition again, which will be held at Hayward Field.

After her time here at La Salle, Gall plans to continue pole vault in college. “I pretty much have a spot on the Tufts track team, so I’ll most likely be doing pole vault there next year,” Gall said.

She also plans to study human factors engineering. Her dream job would be working to make buildings, areas, or products more accessible for people with disabilities. 

Gall manages to maintain her athletics and academics by “forcing” herself to do work. “It’s really easy after track to just not do anything and take a break, but I think you got to force yourself, especially after meet days,” Gall said. “Planning ahead is the most important aspect.” 

Track and field has taken Gall to many interesting places, including Reno, Nevada, where she participated in a pole vault camp and competition. She enjoyed this experience because “You get to watch Olympians vault,” she said. “And you get to spend a weekend with your friends and you just learn a lot and it pushes you.” Gall also had the unique opportunity to learn from various new coaches, some of whom trained Olympians.

For those curious about pole vault, Gall said, “Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.” She notes that the real challenge comes once you’ve gained a bit more experience. “Once you hit a certain level – and that varies from person to person – you stop PR’ing (personal record) as often, and it’s a lot easier to get more mentally screwed up, and mental blocks are very, very common,” Gall says. 

Gall encourages others to try track. “I think [track] it’s an interesting sport,” Gall says. “Especially because there is kind of something for anybody.” Gall especially recommends trying pole vault. “I think it’s an obscure thing that people are scared of, but once you do it, it is not as scary as it looks,” Gall said. 

Gall doesn’t have a set procedure to calm herself down before jumping, so she likes to envision the motions of pole vault in her mind. “I’ll do a lot of visualization if I’m getting in my head about something or if I’m nervous about something,” Gall said. 

Outside of the stress that track can bring, Gall likes to relax by watching tv, specifically Gilmore Girls. Gall also enjoys spending time with her dog and reading. 

Overall, one of Gall’s fondest track memories was competing at the 5A State Championships in 2022. “Getting to vault at Hayward field, because it’s such a big track thing, was pretty great,” Gall said.

With one final season left to represent the Falcon track team and pole vault squad, Gall has set high goals for herself and is enjoying the time she has left with her teammates.