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      Local athletes vault in their coaches' backyard

      Rusty Shealy started Pole Vault camps in his backyard beginning in 1998.

      Columbia (WACH)- Most athletes train at on-site facilites, but for Rusty Shealy and his wife Nancy, they brought a whole new meaning to "homefield advantage."

      The couple started Shealy's Athletics in 1998 and developed a runway and a pit in their own backyard for kids to practice pole vaulting.

      "I never had the help that could've taken me to the levels that I've been able to take these kids," Rusty Shealy said. Those levels carry nice accolades. Shealy has coached 69 South Carolina high school state champions, ten national champions and three have gone on to represent Team USA.

      You may ask, "How does one get involved with pole vaulting?" The answer is quite simple for one teen.

      "I've always liked being in the air and liked climbing trees," Ben Brawley said.

      The junior at Irmo High School said his coach told him he had the look of a vaulter.

      A former track and field coach at the University of South Carolina, Shealy has gained the attention of younger athletes at his camps.

      "The first time I came here, I noticed Coach Shealy had a passion and enthusiasm for pole vaulting that was contagious to his vaulters and I just wanted to be a part of that," Megan Goodson said.

      Shealy's experience has helped athletes at his camp step their game up.

      "Coach Shealy's actually taken me to the next level," Christian Lloyd said. "My mechanics were wrong to begin with. I had the speed and potential to do it, but I didn't know how to put those things together and Coach Shealy took me through everything and showed me how to vault and do it right."

      Shealy says it does not matter whether you are setting world records or competing at a lower level, your best takes you far.

      "It does a tremendous amount to building your self-confidence, your self-esteem and once you feel like you can pole vault, you feel like you can do anything."