Dec. 1, 2010
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It is typical for a freshman to enter collegiate athletics lacking confidence. It is a world of the unknown, and at a given event, you could be competing against one of the best athletes in the country. But for Vanessa Jules to set the Marshall University school record in high jump as a freshman in 2010, confidence shouldn’t be an issue, right?
Well, in the case of Jules, it is. But that’s because Jules possess all the raw talent in the world, and just needs someone to bring it out of her.
Entering her sophomore season, Jules is already an accomplished athlete at Marshall and in Conference USA. She placed third at the C-USA Outdoor Championships with a height of 5-8 in the high jump, and was a two-time Maryland State Champion in high school.
Not bad for someone who started high jumping as a junior in high school, and who had never been coached up until now.
“I started jumping in 11th grade. Since then, I have been jumping with the same steps,” Jules said. “I am just now finding out that my steps are wrong. I jumped 5-8 with a bad approach. Imagine if I had a good approach.
“I wasn’t coached throughout high school. They told me one meet I was doing high jump, so I was like, ‘Okay,’” Jules continued. “I was my own coach. Now I know what I am doing wrong.”
Thanks in large part to new assistant coach Willie Johnson, Jules now has the aspirations of reaching 6-2 and topping her success of last year which saw her earn Junior All-American status by placing fourth at Nationals in July.
Because, well, she finally has a coach who sees room for improvement. Even as a freshman at Marshall, Jules was somewhat on her own due in part by the departure of the assistant coach who was in charge of sprints and jumps.
But now, a change in her approach and a change in her jump, Jules can now be considered, if not the favorite, one of the favorites to win C-USA, as the winning height last year was 5-10. If 6-2 is in sight, Jules will be bringing a C-USA title back to Huntington.
Now with the confidence slowly creeping in everyday, the sky is the limit for Jules as she looks to take C-USA by storm this year and pave her way to unchartered territories for a Marshall University athlete; competing at Worlds.