Vaulting Into the Medical Field

By Brian Yauger

Being a college athlete isn’t easy. It’s long hours and it’s tough work. Nursing isn’t an easy major either. To participate in one is tough enough, but to tackle both at the same time is a difficult feat to pull off.

Brock Wooten, a pole vaulter at Youngstown State University, is one of four members of the men’s track and field team that took on the daunting task of being an athlete while studying nursing.

How he does it is simple. At least now it is as a senior.

“Time management is one of the biggest things I’ve learned in college,” Wooten said. “Coming from high school it’s so much different because everything is blocked out, but in college there’s a lot more variability in your schedule. … My day is very regimented. Now it’s just normal.”

YSU’s track and field program has consistently been one of the school’s best athletic programs over the years. Countless titles and awards have been won over the quarter-century tenure of coach Brian Gorby. Wooten thinks the program has hit another level over the past couple of years.

“I think the program has gotten a lot more success-oriented per se,” Wooten said. “The coaches are the same, but we’re getting better people that are more driven to run that conference rather than just being lax about it.”

What made him decide to take on the challenge of the nursing world is inspiring. While in high school, his grandmother received hospital care. The nursing staff opened his eyes to what he wanted to do going forward.

“I can remember one of the times I went in during that period, that in the time that I was there I felt very welcome,” Wooten said. “It was a completely different environment than I ever experienced before. They made a bad situation much better.”

Penguins pole vaulter Brock Wooten attempts to clear the bar during the YSU Mid-Major Invitational in February 2019. Photo courtesy of YSU Sports Information

His experience made him want to reach out a helping hand to the people in need and their families.

“I’d like to do that for somebody else’s family and make them feel completely welcome and make them feel comfortable,” Wooten said. “In that setting, you’re seeing people dealing what’s possibly the worst situation they’ve been in in their lifetime. To extend the care to their close relatives in their time of need can really change their outlook.”

This past weekend, the Penguin track and field team hosted the YSU Invitational. Wooten placed first in the unseeded pole vault category, clearing 13 feet, 11.75 inches with a 4.26-meter vault. The preparation for a meet like this is as tough as it sounds.

“Two days before we started carb loading and then work on the recovery aspect,” Wooten said. “Making sure you get adequate sleep is one of the things our trainers push. … Ice baths, stretching, doing a minimal workout the day before, something to get all the lactic acid out from earlier in the week’s practice, then we hunker down and get everything straight.”

As a senior, Wooten hopes to end his career with a bang. Like most athletes, a conference title is the main goal, but Wooten would like to best himself one last time.

“Indoor track is my main focus point, but to cap off the year I’d love to set a new personal best,” Wooten said. “I want us to sweep outdoor in conference, and I think we have the ability to do that.”