The athlete spotlight this week lands on senior Cornell pole vaulter and sprinter, Eve Bishop, who has risen to the top of Cornell’s all-time vaulting performances and the top %1 of her graduating class with her drive to reach “higher heights”. Eve, who grew up and attended high school in Andover, Massachusetts, will graduate this May with majors in Chemistry and Biology & Society as a Merrill Presidential Scholar. Before joining Cornell’s program, she specialized in sprints, taking third in the indoor 300m and outdoor 200m at the Massachusetts State Championships. Eve has since shifted her focus to the pole vault where she has quickly mastered the technicalities to become not just a top performer, but this year’s Indoor Heps Champion and current school record holder in the event (13-01 1/2). She most recently placed 2nd overall at the Stanford Invitational with a vault of 12-06 1/4, which will give her a boost of confidence towards reaching her goals of an Outdoor Heps title and qualifying for NCAA preliminaries and nationals.
When did you start running/throwing/jumping?
I began my track & field career as a sprinter during my sophomore year in high school. I had always loved to run (the relays at my hometown’s annual elementary school track & field meet may have been more exciting to me than Christmas morning), so that sparked my interest in the sport. When my coaches learned that I had done gymnastics, they encouraged me to try pole vaulting. I dabbled in the event to appease their curiosity, but at the time, no event felt as fun and freeing to me as sprinting. I did not turn my focus to the pole vault until the end of my sophomore year at Cornell.
How did you end up competing for Cornell?
If there is one thing I am more passionate about than track, it is academics. I knew I wanted to attend an academically strong university, and was also fortunate enough to have run fast enough times to be recruited by a few track coaches, including Coach [Rich] Bowman. Once he brought me to Cornell, I knew it was the place for me. Many people will say Cornell is the “odd ball” of the Ivy League schools, and I found its differences magical.
Where is your favorite place to compete? Why?
It’s a toss up between two places. I am from Andover, Massachusetts, and every time I compete in Boston, I feel at home with my family, friends, and high school track coaches there to support me. Barton Hall is also special to me. It is our home track and right at the center of our campus, so I am able to invite friends and teachers to competitions and share with them what I work so hard at every day.
Before you start your event, what do you mentally focus on? How do you maintain that focus during the event?
Before pole vaulting, I always focus on doing the best I can. I can be really hard on myself, so this is important to me. I always take a minute before competition to remind myself that, no matter the result, I must be proud of myself for giving my best effort. During competition, I am all about technique, which makes it easy to maintain focus. I feel very aware of my body positions, and actually have a checklist of positions to hit as I progress through my vault.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions (i.e. pre-race meal, articles of clothing or jewelry, songs you listen to, etc)?
I am not superstitious, but I do like consistency and having a competition routine. As an example, I eat the same oatmeal breakfast and talk to my mom before every meet. While competing, I also always wear a necklace that my best friend gave me. It has an arrow on it that she told me signifies “positive directions.”
If you weren’t a pole vaulter and sprinter, what event would you most like to do?
Javelin! I’ve heard that javelin is a very technical event, just like the pole vault. The challenge that comes with always having technique to improve upon excites me. Plus, javelin would give me a great incentive to increase my subpar shoulder flexibility.
Do you have any interests outside of track and field?
I have an interest in glass blowing. I was exposed to this by a family friend in high school, and have pursued it ever since. I just made a green vase for an academic advisor of mine! I also enjoy playing the flute, knitting, following gymnastics and anything outdoors—hiking, exploring, running, anything!
What athletic performance are you most proud of? Non-athletic?
Looking back, I am most proud of the first time I cleared 3.60m, the ECAC qualifying height. This happened at Cornell’s Denault Meet my junior year. I really struggled to learn the event, and am most proud of my hard work and resilience that led me to that clearance. I have always put academics before athletics, so I am may be even more proud of my academic accomplishments than my athletic accomplishments. My GPA puts me in the top 1% of Cornell seniors, and I was recently selected as a Merrill Presidential scholar.
What are your goals this upcoming season?
Of course I want to add Outdoor Heps and ECAC titles to my indoor ones, but those are not the goals that motivate me every day. I still consider myself new to pole vaulting, so more than anything, I want to push myself to higher heights, to see what I am capable of before my track career comes to a close. Hopefully that will allow me to reach the NCAA level of competition.
Describe your favorite Heps memory.
Again, I have two. The first has nothing to do with me. During Indoor Heps last year, I remember my teammate [Stephen Mozia] throwing a new PR and Ivy League record in the shot put. In celebration, he picked up our throws coach [Megan Johnson] with so much force that I can still picture her legs flying through the air. To me, that one moment really epitomizes the excitement of the Heps. This past Indoor Heps at Harvard, my teammates and I went 1-2-4 in the pole vault, which was pretty special too.
What does the Heps mean to you?
To me, the Heps is all about the atmosphere. The amount of excitement, adrenaline and team spirit is truly unbelievable, and I think it creates a bond among all Ivy League competitors that lasts forever. Not to mention, no athlete seems to show up without their “A game,” which makes for an excellent competition.
If you could dine with anyone who has ever existed, who would you dine with, and why?
Mary Lou Retton. She was the first American gymnast to win an All-Around gold medal at the Olympics, and was one of my idols growing up as a gymnast. I would love to learn more about her story.
Any recommended Books? Music? Movies?
When it comes to movies, I love mysteries. Memento, Fight Club, and Gone Girl are a few of my favorites. I am a huge country music fan, and do not think you can go wrong with Luke Bryan or Tim McGraw. I tend to read medical mysteries and science fiction books, so I’d recommend “Brain on Fire” and “The Magicians” series.
Top photo courtesy of cornellbigred.com. Other photos courtesy of Eve Bishop.