March 11, 2005
By André Bayard
It takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work to stay at the top and be successful. One little set back, can take that all away. You have to take success one-step at a time, to make sure you are doing everything right. And for Washington's senior pole-vaulter, Kate Soma, she takes those steps to make sure she is on the right path to stay successful.
"I try to not let the success add pressure," says Soma. "Obviously there's an expectation on me from myself and from other people. It doesn't really matter what I am ranked going in. The only thing that matters is what I do on that day."
With the indoor track season coming to an end, Soma can be satisfied with the fact that with every meet, she went out and did the best she could. And it just so happened that her best ended up being the best in the country, even if that wasn't her intention to begin with.
"I guess it was nothing I really thought about. I just try to do the best I can do, and if that wins then that wins, but it's not that my goal is to go out and win a championship," says Soma respectfully. "My goal is to jump a certain height, or do my best. And if that wins, then that's a bonus. My goals are more to jump a certain height, than to win competitions."
And Soma has been clearing some very impressive heights. Holding the pole-vault record at Washington, which she broke as a freshman, she has continued to break her own record each consecutive year. Now with her record mark at 14-3 ½, which she broke this year at the Husky Classic, Feb. 12, she only has room for improvement. Right now, she leads the Pac-10 in the event, and also put up this years NCAA's best, which makes her the top competitor at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She goes into the meet feeling confident, but with every championship, the feeling of anxiety comes natural.
"I am sure I will be really nervous the night before. I started to think about what it's going to take, what I want to jump, and how high I think I am going to go," she says. "I am going to treat this meet, like any other meet, because I think that is what will help me the best. I have to stay relaxed, and not put any pressure on myself. It is the National Championships, but if I don't win, it wont be the end of my life, but it will be one of the most memorable days of my life if I do win."
With this being her last year to compete at the collegiate level, Soma can be confident in the fact that her career does not end there. The Portland, Oregon, native currently ranks second among American women in the 2005 IAAF World Rankings only to U.S.-record holder, and Olympic gold medallist, Stacy Dragila, and is the 20th-ranked woman in the world. Competing at the professional level is her next step, but she is still going to take on that task one year, one day, one meet, and each vault at a time.
"I am just taking it one step at a time," says Soma. "And at this time, I am focused on the Indoor Nationals, and that's what I need to do. That's my next step. But I am planning on competing at the US Nationals, and I hope to do some meets in Europe. I have goals I want to accomplish, and to look way into the future, and if I still love pole-vaulting, and my body still permits me do it, the 2008 Olympics will definitely be a goal of mine."
With all the success that has come from pole-vaulting, beginning her freshman year in high school, Soma has managed to not let all the success go to her head. One would say that her humbleness is the key to her success.
"I feel so lucky that it's me," says Soma. "Anyone could be in this position. I don't know why it's me. I have been totally blessed by God, and I think about why I am ranked number one, when it could be anyone. I definitely worked as hard as I can to get into this position, but it could be anyone, and I feel really lucky that it's me."
Even though she says it's luck, Soma's coaches, and fans know that she has earned and deserves every bit of her success. Her hard work and determination made her number one. It's exciting for Washington to have an uprising star, gracing its sports program. With every step she takes, with every height she clears, with every goal she accomplishes, her fans will be right a long with her rooting her on.