The indoor track and field season is only a few months away, and on Tuesday the Violets moved to add a new pole vaulting coach to their staff. Christopher Sandoli comes to NYU from Stevens Institute of Technology, where several of the athletes he coached won conference titles as individuals in both the men’s and women’s pole vault. This success, along with being recommended by other coaches to NYU head coach Erison Hurtault, helped Sandoli stand out from other candidates.
“He’s definitely prepared to guide the vaulters through as much training as they need to be successful,” Hurtault said, “The real test of coaching is in how you develop relationships with your coworkers and with your athletes long term. It’s week after week, ups and downs, dealing with all the stuff that the season is going to throw at you. And how do you respond?”
The challenging nature of coaching is part of the reason Sandoli chose to come to NYU. As an undergrad, he was a four-year member and a captain of his track team at Manhattan College, from which he graduated in 2017. As such, he’s familiar with the unique space-based issues that come with being a track team in New York City.
“Over here at NYU, obviously everyone knows the name, but it’s the environment that really interested me,” Sandoli said. “Bringing all the complex situations or different challenges that NYU has as far as facilities, being able to be successful for the rest of the season and showing everyone that you don’t need all the best facilities in the world as long as you’re willing to put in the work.”
Sandoli will have to deal with more than just facility-related challenges this season, as he will be working on top of coaching. He and his team have come up with creative solutions to this problem both this year and at his previous position at Stevens, where he took graduate school classes as well as coaching.
By emphasizing weight training, sprinting and other forms of cross training outside of regular practice times, Sandoli’s vaulters have been able to make time spent jumping in practice count more. This philosophy fits well at NYU due to our space shortage — NYU’s indoor track facility is a 45-minute subway ride away, at the 168th Street Armory — and Sandoli believes it produces elite vaulters wherever it’s done.
“It’s going to be actually more beneficial to them as far as recovery goes, strength training goes and sprinting goes, that they’re going to be able to expose their bodies to different training methods and become more well rounded athletes, and we’ll transition into jumps,” Sandoli said.
An emphasis on balance and consistency is a large part of Sandoli’s coaching style. Even in the jumping stage Sandoli said he wants his vaulters to focus on the little things and not try to rush into big jumps early in the season.
“I want them to be jumping correctly. You don’t have to be hitting that new personal best every single meet, you don’t have to be coming in first or second every single meet,” Sandoli said. “It’s really about progressing little by little, and then when it comes time that we hit our peak correctly, during [the UAA Conference Championships], that’s when we’re able to show out and get those big jumps that we’re looking for.”
NYU’s pole vaulters will have plenty of time to develop their athleticism and prepare for the new year under Sandoli’s guidance. This past week, the team hosted its first practice of the academic year. The Violets’ indoor racing season begins on Jan. 11, when they will participate in the College of New Jersey Invitational at the Armory.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, print edition. Email Benjamin Michael Davis at [email protected]