General of the Week: Shep Sims, ’20


Shep Sims, ‘20. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info

Kathryn Young, Sports Writer

Shep Sims, ‘20, placed first in the pole vault at the Roanoke Final Qualifier on March 3, clearing 4.65 meters and defeating his own school record. Sims set his previous record of 4.60 meters on Feb. 19. The Phi sat down with the Charleston, W.Va., native to talk about his success at Washington and Lee thus far and what he is excited about moving forward.

Ring-tum Phi: How did you feel after beating your own school record in the pole vault and taking first place at the Roanoke Final Qualifier?

Shep Sims, ‘20: I felt super relieved. In high school, I hit [4.6 meters] and hadn’t gone that high until last weekend with the [4.65 meter] jump, but have been right on the edge for quite a while. To finally know that there is more potential for growth is an incredible feeling. As far as taking first place, that didn’t really mean much. It was just two of us jumping, and the other competitor is a friend of mine from Lynchburg who was only jumping so that my marks would count. So it wasn’t really harsh competition [and] more of a friendly final chance to get personal records, as both of us did.

Phi: Why did you decide to pole vault at the collegiate level?

Sims: I love the sport: it’s fun, exhilarating and, unlike a lot of sports, you get to become friends with the competition because it’s less of a competition against them and more of a competition against yourself.

Phi: What has been your mindset for your sophomore season?

Sims: My main focus for this year so far has been to break the record. From here out, I know that there is a lot that needs improvement toward control of my body in the air, hopefully pushing me higher little by little.

Phi: What are you looking forward to moving into the spring track season?

Sims: The weather, for sure. As much as it is nice to have consistent conditions, nothing beats jumping in 80-degree sunny weather.

Phi: What are your personal goals moving into outdoor track?

Sims: I definitely want to try to get the outdoor record too, at [4.7 meters], so I think that’s a big one. I would also like to potentially try out a new event or two.

Phi: Aside from track, what are you looking forward to moving forward into the winter term?

Sims: I’m looking forward to warmer weather first and foremost, and I’m really enjoying all of the classes that I’m in, which is the first time I think I could have said that truthfully since starting high school.

Phi: Do you have any pre-meet rituals? If so, what are they?

Sims: Not really anything too crazy. The warm-up stays consistent, and I always set up before each of my attempts the same way, but nothing that is out of the ordinary.

Phi: What is your favorite Washington and Lee track memory?

Sims: At ODACs two weeks ago, the meet came down to the final leg of the last event, the 4x400m relay. Donovan Fiore came from behind to win it and the meet. Everybody went wild and it was the best moment I have seen as a part of any team.

Phi: What are your hobbies outside of track?

Sims: During the summer, I’m really into wakeboarding and water skiing, and pretty much year-round I’m always trying to improve my photography, which I’m taking a class in right now. Also, despite not being able to participate very much, I love rugby and try to spend a good amount of time doing that whenever I have the opportunity.