Throughout the season, men's and women's track & field athletes will give a quick question and answer session here on GoRhody.com to help fans get to know the teams a little. Today's interview is with senior pole vaulter James Strawderman. The season starts on Saturday, Jan. 18 when URI hosts the Sorlien Invitational beginning at 11 a.m.
GoRhody.com: What factors went into your decision to attend the University of Rhode Island?
JS: Before I made the decision to come to URI, I was looking for a good coach, somebody that I got along with well. It's a pretty big decision, because I would be working with them for four years. I had known John Copeland, I had worked with him at a few camps so I came for my official visit, met the team and every here was pretty cool. It was actually the only place I applied to.
GoRhody.com: What is your favorite thing about URI?
JS: The kids on the team are all so close. It's a really welcoming environment, which makes it pretty easy to get along with everyone.
GoRhody.com: What first got you into Track & Field?
JS: I always did Track & Field, my parents put me into it when I was young, but I was a cross-country runner. As far as pole vaulting my dad coached down at North Kingstown when I was younger and I helped out and went and watched. It was always a cool event to watch, so when I got to high school I tried it out. We had year of prep when I worked on off the field stuff like pole drills and mechanics and technical drills. So you have to engrain some good fundamentals before you actually try jumping, because it can get kind of dangerous.
GoRhody.com: What are you most excited about going into the season?
JS: I'm more excited about this season than ever before. I redshirted all last year because I got into a motorcycle accident, and haven't been able to compete in a year. We had a small inter-squad meet at the beginning of this year and it was so much fun. I'm just looking forward to jumping high again.
GoRhody.com: Do you have any particular personal goals for this season?
JS: My sophomore year I had a PR of 5-meters outdoors so for the indoor season I want to set a PR for 5'10".
GoRhody.com: What do you do on the day of a meet to prepare for the day ahead?
JS: I try to keep everything just like a normal day. I don't want to change anything to drastic, but I try not to think about pole-vaulting at all. It's a very easy event to over-complicate and when you let it get in your head it's hard to perform the next day.
GoRhody.com: What is your major and what do you hope to do in the future?
JS: My major is Kinesiology and the sub-text that I'm in is Heath Fitness and I've always been interested in coaching. I do a few camps over the summer and I like working with kids. There is also a company called MMF Athletic, it's a track & field company and they sell different equipment to schools around the world. I've worked there before and will try to pursue a job there in the future.
GoRhody.com: Do you have a favorite class and why?
JS: I actually just took it last semester, Strength and Conditioning and it was pretty interesting. My main focus has been on strength and conditioning when I've been taking my classes. I loved it.
GoRhody.com: What is the most memorable piece of advice anyone has every given you?
JS: A long time ago my father told me whatever you decide to do just have fun with it, if you can't enjoy what you are doing then you shouldn't be doing it.
GoRhody.com: Your father was an athlete here. Is it special for you to compete here as well and follow in his footsteps?
JS: All throughout high school I was going after all his record, and now I want to take out his Rhode Island records too. He always talks trash to me too. He was a good jumper and he has the records here now by far. I haven't come close to him yet, but he was a huge reason why I came here.
GoRhody.com: If you weren't on the Track & Field team, what other team would you be on?
JS: I've always been into wrestling and I always see these kids rolling on the mats and I know it's a club team but that would be cool. I don't know if I have the skills for any other Division I teams here.