Athlete Feature 41 - Jax Thoirs - USA Athletics Scholarships

Athlete Feature 41 – Jax Thoirs

130427_AT_Track & Field WEB

In this athlete feature, we look to the west coast and University of Washington’s Scottish record holder in the Pole Vauly, Jax Thoirs.

tbUSA – You entered the University of Washington having already spent a year at Glasgow Uni before your move to Seattle. What prompted this move? Were you always intent on the NCAA?

JT – After my coach Steve Rippon left his job at Scottish Athletics to work for Finnish athletics I needed to look at my options. Steve gave me a lot of help with contacting American college coaches which was great. If Steve hadn’t left Scotland I wouldn’t have left, but when the opportunity arose I was really excited to go on this adventure. When I was younger, even before I started pole vaulting a dream of mine was to study and compete in the States.

tbUSA – There are numerous Scots in the NCAA. Did this prompt interest from you seeing them progress to the levels they have such as Chris O’Hare at Tulsa?

JT – I saw Chris O’Hare was doing well at Tulsa, which I thought was cool, but seeing Scottish athletes in the NCAA wasn’t what interested me in going. Athletically I knew it wasn’t a guarantee that I would go out and jump high, but luckily I did. Aside from my athletics I was positive going to Washington was the best thing I could do in terms of an overall life experience.

tbUSA – Athletes heading the NCAA from the UK are primarily distance runners due to the three seasons on offer. While the Washington women have a good distance program, the Huskies men seem more track oriented. Is that something you looked for in a program?

JT – I knew Washington had a great pole vault coach that has produced a lot of guys that have jumped high, that was all I really cared about.

tbUSA – You set the Scottish Junior record last year. This season just past you raised the bar and took the senior record too. Are you on course in your mind for the Commonwealths and where you want to be?

JT – I improved a lot this season and that is all you can ask for really, I think I’m in a good position to go on and jump higher next year and shoot for Gold in Glasgow. In an ideal world I would be at 5.80 right now and the favourite heading into next year but I was really happy and satisfied with my development this year.

tbUSA – Was the NCAA the move you had to make, to make this a reality?

JT – Getting out of Scotland was a definite must. It’s a fact that there isn’t a pole vault coach in Scotland that could have moved me on the way Pat (UW coach) did. I could have followed Steve to Finland or maybe moved down South but I think training with Pat has got me jumping as high as I possibly could have this year and really enjoying what I’m doing

tbUSA – Away from athletics, you have studied both in the UK and USA university systems. What are you studying and what are the main differences offered to the athlete in each?

JT – This coming quarter I’m taking classes in history, sociology and English, and right now I’m thinking about economics as my major, but I change mind about my major rather often. It is not really comparable what was offered to me in Glasgow and what is offered to me now at Washington. At Glasgow I felt like my studies and sport were completely separate which was fine, but I like how at Washington the two are merged together. We have study rooms right beside where we train, and tutors are available to us there as well as academic advisors making sure your schedule fits. Its setup to allow you to succeed in academics and sport, which is obviously exactly what I want.

tbUSA – Facility-wise, the Huskies’ offering is second-to-none. Can you say just how much this helps compared to more understated facilities back home? Or is the whole package, such as trainers, massage, S&C all on tap in the NCAA?

JT – The facilities are pretty great in Glasgow to be honest. The new emirates arena is a great place to train, so for me the facilities in both Glasgow and Washington are really good. I wasn’t in need of much therapy in Washington, but when I had a problem it got dealt with decently. I don’t really know enough about S and C to comment but I never got injured and jumped high which is all that matters.

tbUSA – Your PB last year came in Finland in the summer. How do you find combining both season as a field athlete, and maybe not the same onus on the winter that many cross country runners find by competing late in the summer?

JT – This was my first time combining the two seasons and the fact that I came back to Europe and jumped a PB shows that it was fine. Washington seems to be far more concerned with the outdoor season compared with the indoor which I think is really good for me because it means I don’t have to go all guns blazing from January right through to August. I can take it slow and gradually build up as the year progresses.

tbUSA – You made the Euro U23s but unfortunately failed to make the NCAA finals in Eugene. How would you equate the standards of each?

JT – It took 5.40 at the west preliminary (Regional meet) in Texas to advance to Eugene and 5.35 to qualify for the final in Finland. Considering the conditions were slightly better in Texas the qualifications were very similar. I just had a good day at the U23s and a bad day in Austin. The depth of jumpers over 18ft is similar in the NCAA as in U23 Europeans, so the standards are quite similar. 

tbUSA – Having navigated the recruiting process yourself, what advice would you give to aspiring student-athletes?

JT – I just think the main thing is to be productive. Don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you, go out, do your research and contact the Universities yourself and make it happen because it’s is not an experience you want to let pass you by.

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