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Not only has Davis Nicol found a pathway to his future through pole vault, but the Fike High senior discovered a life lesson in the sport.
“It’s just to fully commit to something, even if it’s a small thing, just fully commit to it,” he said. “Like school, you’ve got to fully commit to it because if you don’t, you’ll fail. Or pole-vaulting — if you don’t fully commit, you’ll probably break the pole and injure yourself.”
Nicol fully committed to Montreal College on Thursday when he signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his pole vault career at the NAIA program.
“I’m ecstatic!” he said during a ceremony in the Fike auditorium attended by his teammates, coaches, teachers and his parents, Heather and Tim Nicol of Elm City. “I really can’t find the words to describe it because I still don’t believe it, that a school actually wants me to continue doing what I love.”
Nicol, who just won the 3-A Big East Conference championship for a second straight year, said that he was contacted by NCAA Division I UNC Wilmington and Div. II Barton College, but chose the Cavaliers, who finished second in the Appalachian Athletic Conference championships this week, after he was offered an athletic scholarship.
It was quite a jump for Nicol, who started vaulting as a freshman but didn’t really hit his stride until last year. That’s when he first began to consider pole-vaulting after high school.
“During my junior year when it all kind of clicked and I started getting better and better,” he said. “That was pretty fun.”
That’s when he began to think, “I really enjoy this and want to continue it in college if I can.”
Nicol improved his best vault by more than two feet between his sophomore and junior seasons at Fike. Currently, Nicol has the best vault in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East Region at 12 feet, 7 inches.
“Davis has worked hard the last two years and right now he’s No. 1 in the region with his 12-7, so it’s paying off,” Fike head coach Sonny West said. “It’s something that his freshman year he didn’t plan on doing. He had future goals and he wanted to be a chef.”
Nicol, who plans on majoring in history, grinned at the memory.
“My freshman I ran the 800 a lot because I wasn’t that good at pole vault,” he said.
But by the time he was clearing 11 feet as a junior, West knew he had potential. West, a former collegiate pole vaulter and the father of four-time state 3-A champion Ian West, knows a thing or two about pole-vaulting.
“He’s worked really hard and he technically looks very sound,” West said of Nicol. “He’s not the biggest specimen if you look at him, but because of the work he’s put in, he’s become very efficient on the lower stages of the vault. So now we’re trying to work on upper phases since we have the lower phases.”
Nicol, who finished fourth at the 3-A East Regional and earned a trip to the state 3-A meet, is hoping to better that this year and clearing 13-0 before his Fike career is over.
And as Nicol reminds: “You’ve got to fully commit.”