After spending 10 years as a competitive gymnast, Erin Gerardo decided to use her high school years as a time to try something different. She found her place in track and field as a pole vaulter and hurdler.
“I’d heard from friends that gymnastics translates easily into pole vault,” says Gerardo. “Similarly with hurdles, it’s very similar to gymnastics, and the speed and body awareness that you need for both hurdles and pole vault translates really well from my previous sport.”
The Santa Margarita Catholic High School senior competes in not only the pole vault, the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles for the Eagles, but also on the 4 x 400 meter relay team. Gerardo enjoys the unique challenge that each event brings.
“With both of the events, they’re both really technical, and I think there [are] always places where you can improve,” says Gerardo. “And that’s one of the things I love most about it. It’s always a challenge, and there’s always something that you can work towards.”
As a new athlete to track and field, the learning curve for Gerardo posed some challenges, but the four-year varsity team member has adapted and excelled.
“Whenever you start out a new sport or event in track and field, it’s always hard to pick it up quickly, and so that can be discouraging at first,” says Gerardo. “I think I’ve tried to work really hard in improving my craft. So I think that’s helped me to stay motivated.”
And much of Gerardo’s motivation stems from her teammates. Experiencing back-to-back CIF Championships in both 2015 and 2016 alongside this group has served as great inspiration for the 17-year old.
“I’m really going to miss the environment that we have on our track team,” says Gerardo. “We’re all a really tight group. We work really well together. They are some of my best friends, and they also motivate me to keep going.”
And Gerardo in turn inspires her teammates as well.
“Erin is one of the most talented all-around athletes that you will find in California,” says Sean Zeitler, track coach at Santa Margarita. “She is a natural leader, and her work ethic is infectious. She always brings an upbeat and positive attitude to practice, and it has been an honor to coach her.”
Away from the track, Gerardo has enjoyed serving the last four summers at Special Camp for Special Kids, a week-long summer camp for special needs youth that has provided her the chance to gain empathy and extend herself into the community.
The Aliso Viejo resident is headed to the East Coast next fall to Yale University, where she will continue her track and field career as she runs, “for God, in his name.”
“It definitely does play a big role in my athletic career,” says Gerardo of her faith. “I know that God is always watching over us as we run.”