'Life is life' for Charlotte Brown

Blind pole vaulter Charlotte Brown joins "SportsCenter" to talk about how she got her start in the sport and competes at a high level.

In case you missed it, Charlotte Brown, the 16-year-old pole vaulter from Texas, who oh yeah just happens to be legally blind, came to the ESPN campus yesterday for a visit. With her seeing-eye dog Vador by her side, she stopped by espnW to give us the inside scoop on her summer plans, future goals and tips for overcoming life's challenges.

espnW: Last summer, you introduced Vador and beepers to your pole vault technique. Anything new planned for this summer?

Charlotte Brown: Mostly just focusing on technique. I am going to be working on getting upside down more in pole vault and not pre-planting, which is putting the pole down too early. Nothing in terms of beepers or dogs or anything like that, just really focused on ironing out the technical aspects of the way I vault.


Charlotte Brown with her guide dog Vador was game for our questions.

espnW: Are you getting any closer to deciding on which college you are going to attend?

CB: I 'm still keeping my options open so I'm not exactly sure where I'm going yet. But I have narrowed it down to 10 or 11 schools, which isn't really that narrow (laughs). But I have my list and I will begin applying in August.

espnW: Can we get a hint? Maybe your top three?

CB: Hmm ... my top three would probably be Stanford, UT and Cornell.

espnW: Wow, so you would go to a cold place like Cornell?!

CB: (Laughs) Cornell may be No. 3 just because of how cold it is. My brother is also at Purdue, so I have also been thinking about that as well.

espnW: What advice do you have for other girls that are coping with challenges in life?

CB: Not so much to always push through, but to find a vent. I think pole vault is fun and exciting but pole vault and track are vents for me. If I am stressed about something at school or even if I am stressed about track because I am not performing at the level I think I should be, running and vaulting are a vent for me. So I think finding that outlet is really important, even if it's not track.

espnW: What is the most memorable moment from your junior year track season?

CB: That would probably be when I finished pole vaulting and Jon [Fish, ESPN features producer] told me that all my vaults were being aired live on ESPN.

espnW: He didn't tell you before that?! Do you know why he didn't tell you?

CB: Ha, ha. No, I didn't know! I think he didn't tell me because I knew my vaults from state were on ESPN. So I knew they were still following my story and everything and I knew Jon was in Austin, but I didn't know it was going to be live. As soon as he told me I checked my phone and I had about 50 text messages from friends saying they were watching me in the cafeteria! So that was really cool.

espnW: How did you feel when he told you after the fact that it was live on ESPN?

CB: It was really cool. I really did appreciate that he didn't tell me before. I am pretty good with nerves and dealing with pressure, but if I had known that all my teammates would be watching live and having a gathering in the cafeteria, I might have been a little nervous.

espnW: Not only were your teammates watching that day, but the world was watching too! You are such an inspiration to your fans, so we decided to take to Twitter and offer them the chance to ask a few questions!

@S_Galactus: Now that you have all this national exposure, do you feel any additional pressure to succeed?

CB: I don't think it is necessarily pressure, I think it is more motivational. Before, I just thought of it as something that was fun for me to do. But now I realize that there are all these people watching and that maybe this can help other people and that is really cool! So that is just more a motivation to keep getting better.

@SpiritedScribes: If you could interview any celebrity for a day, who would it be and why?

CB: It would probably be Jennifer Suhr. She is the Olympic gold medalist in pole vault. I actually talked to her over the phone last year after the state meet. It was really cool; I mean I got to talk to an Olympic gold medalist! It would be really cool to meet her in person. I would interview her probably just to tell her how awesome she is (laughs), and also to get some technique and training tips.

@shanishani: Any other sports you want to try?

CB: Track is it for the moment. We're thinking about hurdles next year, maybe! I may wait until college if I am going to do that. I have never tried it so it would be a new adventure.

@grpast: Who or what was your inspiration to try pole vaulting?

CB: My brothers. Growing up we were always so competitive and they were always pushing me. We always competed on the track and I think I saw pole vault as something exciting and something I could be good at. It was exciting to prove to them that I could do something cool!

@S_Galactus: How do you find the inner strength to push through and continue to do better after setbacks in life, like when you lose or don't do as well as you wanted to?

CB: I think just realizing that life is life. You are not going to be at your best every day. It might sound kind of weird but you know that saying "it sucks to suck?" Well yeah it does! When you don't do well you feel bad, but that is life. Some days are going to be good and some are going to be bad and you just have to realize that and move on.

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