WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — It may not be track season in Westborough, but that doesn't stop Doug Lang and Patriot Pole Vault from taking a few leaps.
Along with a staff that includes former Algonquin coach Ken Petersen, Lang teaches local and non-local athletes the fundamentals and strategies of the intricate sport every day from 3 to 6 p.m. at Westborough High School.
"The interest is off the charts," said Lang, who has coached upwards of 250 vaulters from ages 10 to 60-plus since last March, including several from Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. "In other states there aren't always [pole vault] clubs. Sometimes we're just the closest."
Aaron Beckwith of Hopkinton, N.H., is one of those out-of-staters, and drives close to two hours three times a week to practice at Westborough High School. Beckwith currently jumps 14 feet, 9 inches, with the goal of clearing 16 feet by the end of his senior season.
"My coach told me about [Patriot Pole Vault] at first, and that I should come out and try it," Beckwith said. "It's definitely helped. I can keep practicing and keep improving all year."
Algonquin junior Carly Railing and Nashoba junior Katie Deufel are regulars at the club. Deufel joined just three months ago, and said she has seen great improvement. Her school doesn't have a true pole vault coach.
"I've actually learned how to pole vault properly," Deufel said. "Before it's been someone handing me a pole and saying 'go vault.'"
Patriot Pole Vault began in 2000, and has evolved into a year-round, all-weather program with the help of Rich Archer at 360 Gymnastics in Shirley. The club practices indoors on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the winter and Sundays all year round.
Prices range from $200 to $300 by season, but Lang said he believes money shouldn't keep anyone from vaulting.
"We have a lot of people on the no-payment or a small-payment plan," said Lang, who works as a technician in the technology department at WHS.
It's not all practice for the club, however, as the top vaulters go to several tournaments throughout the year and also compete on their respective school teams. Even with that competition, Lang said all pole vaulters seem to share a common bond, and opponent.
"We're all out there competing against gravity," Lang said.