On Wednesday, St. Michael senior Heather Abadie signed her college letter of intent to pole vault at Texas A&M University.
Originally a gymnast, Abadie grew up training at multiple gyms in the area throughout her elementary and middle school years. After witnessing some childhood friends make the switch from gymnastics to pole vaulting, Abadie decided to see what all the hype was about. “At my first indoor track meet freshman year of high school I saw some girls I knew from gym, and they were pole vaulting. My mom asked me if I wanted to try it, so I did,” she shares. Shortly after that meet, Abadie took up pole vaulting, working her way to the top with ease.
Abadie’s mom, Donalda, a former LSU track star and Olympian, mentions that her daughter has always possessed the gift of athleticism. “She has been an athlete since she was little. She was a high level gymnast, ran cross country and was always a top finisher. Then, I taught her how to hurdle and encouraged her to pole vault,” she says.
One of Abadie’s biggest accomplishments includes holding the highest pole vault jump in Louisiana. Her height, at 13 feet and 4 inches, is not only the top jump for girls’ high school pole vaulters in the state, but also the third best jump in the nation. With this achievement, she also received the Gatorade Louisiana Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year honor last summer. The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Abadie as Louisiana’s best high school girls track & field athlete.
Abadie maintains that a key factor in her success is the support she receives from her gym coaches and her St. Michael track and field coaches. “I started practicing pole vaulting outside of school so when I joined the St. Michael team, all my coaches worked with me and my schedule and programs,” she shares.
Her gym coach, Shane Leleux, says Heather’s success in pole vaulting is imminent. “Heather is a tenacious pole vaulter,” says Leleux. “Her work ethic, her consistency and just being a real student of the game sets her apart from most. She always comes to practice to work. With her signing with an SEC school her level of competition will be great and that will help her because she strives on big competition. All she has to do is keep on improving each day and stay healthy, and I could see her being in national winners conversations in the future.”
Meanwhile, Abadie continues to focus on her senior year athletically and academically and says she looks forward to becoming a student athlete in College Station in the fall of 2021.