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Originally published: 2013-03-11 20:56:16
Last modified: 2013-03-11 20:56:17

Drummonds signs with East Carolina

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Taylor Drummonds had her choice when it came to playing college athletics.

That choice was not just in schools to play but what sport to play. Drummonds chose track and field over softball, and chose East Carolina over other schools that recruited her.

Drummonds made it official Monday when she signed a letter of intent to attend East Carolina. Drummonds said she’ll primarily do the pole vault, but also could run the hurdles and possibly some sprints at East Carolina.

She may even throw the javelin. Blame her experience playing shortstop on Watauga’s softball team for that.

“My pole vault coach saw my softball skills and said, ‘Hopefully we can get you to throw the javelin,’ so we’ll see how that goes,” Drummonds said.

Drummonds, who moved to Boone from Palm Coast, Fla., halfway into her freshman year, participated in the pole vault at the state 4-A indoor meet this winter, and in the state 4-A outdoor meet in the spring of 2012, where she finished ninth.

Drummonds also ran the 100-meter hurdles at the state outdoor meet despite dealing with shin splints. Drummond is healthy this spring, and plays on Watauga’s softball team and will run in her first track meet on Wednesday.

Drummonds was recruited by Lenoir-Rhyne to run track and play softball. Drummonds said she will stick to track and field with East Carolina, but did not rule out softball completely.

She has one final season at Watauga under coach Stephanie Kostis to play softball before she turns to track and field at East Carolina. Her first track meet this spring is Wednesday at Hickory.

“It’s exciting knowing that I’m just doing track, because this year with softball is kind of like closure,” Drummonds said. “I’m excited to start this season with Stephanie and finish strong.”

She liked how the athletes gelled not only as runners and throwers and jumpers, but as a team once the meet starts.

“At practice, we’re all working hard and at the meet, we’re together, family like,” she said. “That’s how it is every meet and it’s so exciting to be a part of that family.”

Drummonds’ interest in the pole vault stems from her father, Jeff Drummonds, who also did the event and was the track coach in Palm Coast. When Drummonds transferred to Watauga, she started doing the event under former pole vault coach Daniel Isaacs in her sophomore year. Isaacs, who played the key role in developing pole vaulters at Watauga, did the same with Drummonds.

She started to run track to get faster for softball. That strategy worked since Drummonds is a threat to steal second and third base any time she gets on base.

But it’s also given her a lot for track and field. She’s been playing softball and running track ever since for the Pioneers.

“Something clicked and I loved it,” Drummonds said.

The mental aspect of pole vaulting is the most fascinating for Drummonds. There are so many different things to account for, such as speed along the ramp before the vault, making sure the pole is placed in the box properly before the vault, getting the pole to bend and clearing the bar all must be addressed during a single vault.

Then there is maintaining a confidence level without getting frustrated if things go wrong that is important. Get one wrong and it can lead to a miss.

“It’s so frustrating and it’s such a mental thing,” Drummonds said. “Athletically it’s hard, but it’s also such a mental game. Every jump is different, but it’s also very worthwhile.”

Balancing the two sports, which are during the same spring season, can be difficult. Drummonds practices with the softball team and plays in the Pioneers’ games.

Practicing for track and field usually involves weekend work.

“I try to do a workout on the weekends,” Drummonds said. “I did some pole vaulting on Saturday and some hurdling on Sunday. Games and meets will definitely override practice. I’ll practice softball most days and pole vaulting if I can when the weather’s nice.”