Greg Steele began participating in sports at an early age. Soccer, tball,
and flag football were a common use of summer weekends. However,
it wasn’t until the fourth grade that Greg was introduced to pole
vaulting. His father and uncle had both been pole vaulters in high school,
each winning two Ohio State titles with his father continuing to vault in
college at Kent State University.
One spring afternoon, Greg’s dad took him to the community stadium
to watch the high school track practice. His father volunteered to
coach the high school vaulters but wouldn’t allow Greg to participate
because he was so young. Whether anticipated or not, this served only to
fuel the fire of competition inside Greg, which carried him through his athletic career. The first vaulting pole Greg used was a broken piece of a pole his father used in college. It was six feet long with a hand carved wooden plug in the end, all prepared by his father. From that point on,
every weekend was spent at the stadium practicing with the whole family. Father coaching, mother operating the video camera, and son having the time of his life.
After three years of practice, Greg was in the seventh grade where
the pole vault was a competitive event for the junior high track team.
Faced with actual competition for the first time, he excelled. That first year, with his father coaching, he jumped 9 feet 9 inches. In the eighth
grade, that mark was improved to 11 feet 6 inches. Both were school records.
High school competition was even more intense as he had to face
kids four years older and that much stronger than he. In his freshman
year, Greg cleared a height of 13 feet 7 inches to set a high school varsity
record. He ended the season with a conference championship title. Sophomore
year was punctuated with a height of 14 feet 6 inches, and Junior
year saw 15 feet 6 inches and his first Ohio State Championship victory. Greg finished out his high school vaulting career with a personal best of
16 feet 3/4 inch and two consecutive conference, district, regional, and
state championships. These accomplishments lead to recruiting letters
from 56 universities across the country ranging from the Big XII, Pac10,
ACC, Ivy League, The Naval Academy, MAC and Big 10 conferences.
After narrowing the search to the University of Kansas, Purdue, and
the University of Kentucky, Greg became a Jayhawk at the University of
Kansas. The coaching staff and the engineering school offered an opportunity
that couldn’t be passed up. Those next five years embodied a time
of tremendous personal, athletic, and academic growth. Being a part of
a division one college sports team gave Greg the chance to travel across
the country to compete. It was also quite a challenge to balance sports
with school work, but this gave him the opportunity to meet yet another
challenge head-on. Greg graduated from the University of Kansas with a
competitive personal best of 17 feet 2-3/4 inches, four college letters, and
a Bachelors degree in mechanical engineering.
The time management skills developed through the union of academics
and athletics have served Greg well throughout his life. Today, he lives
in northern California where he is a process engineer for a company that
manufactures custom industrial heat exchangers.
Nominator:Becky and Denny Steele