Jan. 9, 2014
Fifth-year senior captain Kiley Tobel discusses leading the Wolverines as a second-year captain and previews the 2014 indoor season, which gets underway on Friday (Jan. 10) at Grand Valley.
On being named a second-year captain
... "It was such an honor to be chosen again. There are so many leaders on this team, and the fact that people think of me as a leader is something that I'm humbled by every single day. Coming in with more experience as a captain, I just try to lead by example and also motivate people daily. I think one thing I'm trying to do this year is really get to know everyone and putting in an effort every day to see how people are doing. I try to get a feel for how everyone is doing and make sure they know they have support. Our seniors, not just the captains, have called a couple senior meetings and we've discussed big team goals, small goals, and ways we can get our message across to set the tone for this year. Being captain is a great thing and a huge honor, but it's more our senior leadership as a whole that is really big this year -- it's more of a team effort."
On her individual progress and improvements of the pole vault group ... "This summer I took a little bit of time off the track and did some cross-training, which I really enjoyed. I got stronger in the weight room. I didn't take much time off from the sport itself, but enjoyed a little time off the track getting in the pool and on the bike. So getting back on the track was awesome -- I was so excited. This year for me is the icing on the cake. I've had a great career so far, but there is unfinished business for me. I want to win a Big Ten championship as a team, I want to win one as an individual. I'd like to make another trip back to nationals and have a great performance there. Training overall has been set on those goals, but I make sure to never forget the love for the pole vault itself. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself when it comes to height goals and take it day by day."
"Our little pole vault squad has come so far. We're actually traveling four girls this weekend for the first time since I've been traveling at U-M. I see improvement in each of them daily, but on a monthly basis you can see how far they're coming along. I'm excited to see what they can do. We're all going to be right in the mix at Big Tens and there's a lot to come from our group."
On improving upon her school records in her last season ... "I definitely keep those height goals in the back of my mind at all times, but I just want to take it meet by meet and focus on the positives that can come out of each one. But by Big Tens in February and March for indoor nationals, I'd like to PR by a decent margin. These first meets in January I'm just kind of getting ready and getting through all the preseason training and then as we get into championship season is when I'm going to be focusing on hitting the big heights. I want nothing more than to get a new PR this season and break that 14-foot barrier."
On the team's mentality this season ... "Our team goal is definitely to win a Big Ten championship. A lot goes into that behind the scenes so our mentality is that we know that final goal, but we have to take every single day and do everything that's going to lead us to that goal. Our focus has been on including everyone in everything and making sure everyone knows they have a role in where this team is going. Whether you're a traveling member for four years who is going after an individual title or you're someone who has never scored who is on the cusp of scoring a point, or you're not traveling and you come to practice every day and remind the traveling members that what they're doing is a great opportunity. Making sure everyone knows their role and knows that everyone is equally important is huge. It's important to keep improving and building upon each meet and each practice. Something else we try to do is stay positive -- everyone is going to have their bad days, but we have to pull each other through and keep focused on the bigger picture. There's a lot of promise in our team -- we have a lot of talent, but we have a still long way to go to reach our goals so we have to keep that in perspective and know that every single day is a building block for the next day."
On starting the season Friday at Grand Valley ... "The excitement is definitely there, especially coming off a long break. Everyone is antsy to get back into it. For some people their performance won't be what they want, but it's a good starting place. Some people will probably come out and PR, so there are going to be a broad range of emotions. No matter what, it's a starting place, and a way for us to remember that the time is now -- it's not two months from now, or when Big Tens come -- the time is now. It's not too late to make tweaks to help us get where we want to go. It's also a reminder that all the training that you've put in so far is going to pull you through. I'm really excited to get out and compete and have some adrenaline going. I know some of our distance squad isn't traveling this weekend, so it will be different not having them around, but by the time they are ready to go, the rest of the team will be right there with them."
On recently getting accepted into graduate school ... "I applied to PA school at two places and interviewed at both of them. I've heard back from one so far, which is Eastern Michigan. That's really exciting because I'll be able to stay in Ann Arbor, stay close to my friends and stay in contact with the program. It's a huge relief, especially going into the season and knowing that my future plans are set. Maybe school can take a little bit of a back seat this semester and I can focus on track and go out with a bang. The next phase is going to be hard, but grad school is something I've had my eyes on for a couple years now. Getting through the interview process and getting accepted takes a lot of weight off my shoulders since I now know what I'll be doing for the next two years. It's a little sad at the same time because everything has been such a huge part of my life here at the University of Michigan. I'm glad I have a couple more months here because I'm not ready to go yet."
Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423