California State University, Fullerton

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Orange County Register

Raising the Bar

March 14, 2014

Estelle Naito first tried pole vaulting as a sophomore at Canyon High in 1995. Neither she nor her track and field coaches fully understood the sport, but she enjoyed it.

Nearly two decades later, Naito’s thirst to understand and master the art of pole vaulting hasn’t wavered. The 33-year-old is in her second season as pole vault coach at Cal State Fullerton, driven to teach the sport that captivated her as a teenager.

She wasn’t always sure pole vaulting was her calling. After three years of pole vaulting at Canyon, Naito thought high school vaulting was the end of the road.

She enrolled at Cal State Fullerton and stumbled through the first year. Without purpose, her interest in school and grades plummeted.

“I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t think, to compete at a collegiate level,” Naito said. “I didn’t really have any vision of what I wanted to do as far as a career or anything.”

She contacted and later met with pole vault coach Ron Kamaka, who encouraged her to practice with the team the following spring.

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