Londonderry pole vaulter John Fitzgerald.

LONDONDERRY | The first step towards being a successful pole vaulter, involves the realization that the sport leaves very little room for error.

Perhaps the most technical of all athletic events, pole vaulting requires precision in grip, running speed, pole carrying and take-off point. Not to mention the fact that one must select a pole that adequately matches one's body weight.

Those are all factors that pole vaulters can do their best to control. But there are also elements beyond control that can effect a pole vault. Rain causes the pole to be wet and slippery and cold temperatures create gripping difficulties | both are common weather occurrences during spring track season in New England.

However, Londonderry senior pole vaulter John Fitzpatrick, recently devised a way for his team to better cope with uncomfortable weather conditions.

As part of the process to become an Eagle Scout, Fitzpatrick built a covered shelter near the Londonderry outdoor track. The shelter features a white tarp as the roof with "LANCERS" spelled out in blue lettering. It serves as a place for Londonderry pole vaulters to remain dry and fully-prepared for their event during poor weather conditions. The shelter can also be used to keep pole vaulting equipment dry during a meet.

"To have this shelter is great," said Londonderry track coach Bill Newcomb, who is very thankful for the efforts of Fitzpatrick. "Pole vaulting at Londonderry will now be a lot safer because the kids won't have to endure the elements.

"John has tried to pole vault for four years with wet and cold hands, so he knows what it's like."

Fitzpatrick had to choose an extensive service project and complete it in order to achieve Eagle Scout rank. Knowing first-hand how difficult it can be to pole vault, Fitzpatrick came up with the shelter idea and presented a written plan of the idea to the school and the Eagle Scout Board.

"The Eagle Project is to show that you can be organized and help the community," said Fitzpatrick, who will attend Plymouth State University this fall. "The project has to benefit the community."

The idea was approved and Fitzpatrick managed every facet of the plan with a budgeted amount of money that was granted to him. With the help of seven other kids from his Troop and two adults, the shelter was constructed and officially completed on Tuesday, May 8.

"I feel really good about the project," said Fitzpatrick. "The kids on the team really like it to. They always verbally thank me for building it."

For the most part the weather has been nice since the pole vaulting shelter was built. Nevertheless, the structure will be very useful for years to come especially early in the season when inclement weather thrives.

"When John told me about his idea, I wasn't sure if it would get done," said Newcomb. "But he's an Eagle Scout and he made it happen."

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