Athlete Feature 37 - Mike Edwards - USA Athletics Scholarships

Athlete Feature 37 – Mike Edwards

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Home Town: Manchester, UK

Event: High Jump

PB: 2.20 (UK ranked 5th 2012)

School(s): Alabama, Louisville, Embry Riddle.

Major: Aviation Communication

This week we spoke to British high jumper Mike Edwards.  Whilst our conversation took the form of an informal Skype chat, we are thankful to Mike that he also gave us a written account of his rather unique collegiate journey which involves time spent at three different universities:

Mike’s written account

I started athletics during my second year in high school and by my third year I was clearing heights of 2.14m and receiving many college offers. Harvey Glance, the former head coach at the University of Alabama was impressed after watching me jump 2.14m at my high school competition so he offered me a full scholarship.  After taking my official visit to Alabama I signed the next day.

I was granted a redshirt season my first year at Alabama. This allowed me to focus on my academics and mature as a athlete. I was not allowed to practice or travel with the team. So I coached myself that year. I managed to set a new personal best of 2.16m and qualify for European Juniors that year.

Redshirt Freshman year (Alabama)
My second year at Alabama was my first official season was a learning year competing in the SEC conference. This was great fun and to travel with the team was exciting. Unfortunately after indoors I suffered an injury in my hamstring during the middle of my outdoor season and this prevented me from finishing the season. Also during that time Harvey Glance announced he would retire. I had mixed feelings about who would step in for his replacement so I decided to transfer to the University of Louisville.

Redshirt Sophomore season (Louisville)
I was coached under former US high jumper; Jake Jacoby, and it was a perfect fit. After strengthening my hamstring I started his program. By my third meet indoors I had a new PB of 2.19m and this mark put me 7th on the NCAA list but later dropped to 17th by the end of the year. I initially struggled to gain form outdoors but did win my first Big East outdoor conference title that season. After the college season I travelled back to England for the U23 UK championships and took runner up in the high jump with 2.18m I later closed out the year with some British league comps for my club Birchfield harriers.

Redshirt junior year (Louisville)
From the start of the year I was determined to improve. I wanted to jump at Nationals and the Olympic trials. At my first competition of the year I set a new PB of 2.20m, which was third best in the nation at the time. I was confident it was my year until the very next week we had a team meeting and the coaches announced this will be coach Jacobys last year and that he would be heading to Germany in the spring for good. I was, for lack of better word ‘furious’ but I knew I could not let it distract me, I continued as normal but did not jump any higher for the rest of the season and by spring once coach and classes was over I headed back to the UK to train for the trials. Before the trials I had a long discussion with National jumps coach Fuzz Ahmed which really change my mind set. I did not perform well at the trials but I learned a lot. At this point I decided to leave Louisville.

Senior year (Embry Riddle)
After doing my research on Embry Riddle Aeronautical University I knew it would be a perfect fit. Several Olympians were already training there such as Shara proctor of GB and Christian Taylor USA I knew the school was top notch and I learned later about the great coaches and facilities they had my decision was made.
School is very demanding at Embry Riddle but I knew I had to manage in order to compete. I finished my indoor season unbeaten and won the NAIA championship with a 2.18m clearance.

Our Comments

That brings us up to date with where Mike is at. Unbeaten so far in 2013, the Mancunian heads into his final collegiate season as favourite to add the NAIA outdoor title to the indoor honours he picked up earlier in the year. Naturally, he will also be looking to improve on his 2.20 personal best.

As you can see from the written account above, it has hardly been a conventional collegiate journey. Having attended three schools in four years, we joked with Mike about him being the ‘Nicolas Anelka’ of collegiate athletics. However; unlike the controversial Frenchman, Edwards seems to adapt well and the transfers have been carefully made choices based around choosing the correct coach and furthering himself. Listen below:

 When answering our ever present question regarding ‘advice for perspective athletes, Edwards strongly encourages athletes to take a visit to the school doing the recruiting (if possible) to find out what the team / coach dynamics are really like and to minimise the risk of being sold a ‘sugar coated’ version. It was certainly an interesting point that we have never had raised before and the recorded part of the conversation is below

 Away from high jump the Edwards is enjoying his time in Daytona. Given that this is one of the ‘go to’ spots for spring break, complete with glorious weather and world famous beaches, it would be hard not to. Edwards does plan to return to the UK after graduating this spring. Whilst the prospect of the long British winters may test his apparent ease of adaptability a little more than moving about in the Southern US, we are certainly looking forward to seeing how he progresses over the next few years.

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