S tacy Dragila was so new to pole vaulting that her first post-college meets featured frayed nerves and even a bit of a fashion crisis.
She wore mismatching outfits – Nike shoes with an adidas warmup – she wasn’t sponsored, and she had no idea if she would succeed. In time, she certainly did, pioneering a new era for women’s athletics with her ability to jet down the runway, stick a pole into the pit and soar to new heights. By the time she retired in 2009, the Placer High School and Yuba College graduate had won 17 USA Indoor and Outdoor championships. And she became the first Olympic gold medalist in the event, clearing 15 feet, 1 inch in Sydney in 2000.
On June 12, the Big Sky Conference selected that gold-medal performance as its No. 1 women’s moment as part of the conference’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Dragila, who competed in the heptathlon for Idaho State from 1993 to 1995, learned to vault from coach Dave Nielsen, who introduced her to the event.
“If I would have gone anywhere else in my career, I would have never been on that podium or that stage (in Sydney),” Dragila said. “Dave obviously is a pioneer himself, and I give him full credit for having the vision, and the vision that he broke that barrier. He allowed his athletes to try something new.”
Dragila became the face of the event in America, winning three world titles and setting the world record several times with a best of 15-10.
Now 43, Dragila conducts pole vault camps, including one June 30-July 4 at Sacramento State. She expects to check out the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium in the days before her camp.
Around the region
• John Volek was inducted into the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame at the national convention in Orlando, Fla. Volek, the former Sac State football coach, was the athletic director at Sierra College from 2003 to 2011. Under his watch, the Wolverines earned state and national recognition for athletic success and facility upgrades. Volek, now retired, and his wife, Vicki, spend a lot of time traveling the world.
• Greg Vaughn (Kennedy, Sacramento City College), Geoff Jenkins (Cordova), Fernando Vina (Valley, Cosumnes River, Sac City) and Chris Bosio (Cordova, Sac City) are among the 58 members of the inaugural class for the Milwaukee Brewers’ Wall of Honor.
Vaughn, a first-round pick by the Brewers in 1986, played the first seven-plus of his 15 major-league seasons with Milwaukee, during which he hit 169 home runs and drove in 566 runs. Jenkins played 10 seasons with the Brewers (1998-2007), Bosio seven (1986-92) and Vina five (1995-99).
“This place has a deep, deep connection for me,” Vaughn told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Vaughn, Jenkins, Vina and Bosio are in good company; the inaugural class also includes Commissioner Bud Selig (the Brewers’ first owner), Hank Aaron and Robin Yount.
• Vaughn played with Tony Gwynn on the San Diego Padres, and Vaughn’s son, Cory, played for Gwynn at San Diego State. Now playing outfield with the Las Vegas 51s in Triple A, Cory Vaughn recalled how Gwynn, who died Monday, could hit to any field per request in batting practice, telling The Oklahoman, “Oh, this dude’s the truth.”
• UC Irvine was the only California school to make the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Eric Deragisch (Jesuit, Sierra College), who played for the Anteaters in 2008 and 2009, has been on the coaching staff since 2010. He batted .331 with 55 RBIs at UC Irvine.
• Pleasant Grove High senior Marquese Chriss was one of 24 players who participated in the USA Basketball men’s under-18 national team training camp this week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Chriss, who has verbally committed to Washington, started as a sophomore on Pleasant Grove’s CIF State Division I championship team and averaged 19.0 points and 11.7 rebounds last season, when he earned All-Metro honors from The Bee.
• Ben Noonan, Sierra College’s second-year football coach, has added assistant coaches Ted Popson and Skip Albano to his staff. Popson played tight end for the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, and Albano has coached for 40 years, including last season as the interim head coach at Granite Bay when Ernie Cooper took a year off.
• Stanford safety Jordan Richards (Folsom) and Washington safety-linebacker Shaq Thompson (Grant) were named preseason All-Americans by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview. Richards is a three-year starter for the Cardinal, which opens the season at home against UC Davis on Aug. 30. Thompson is a second-year starter who also may play some running back for first-year coach Chris Petersen (Yuba City, Sac City, UC Davis). Washington opens at Hawaii on Aug. 30.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.