Jacob Thompson: CWU’s Pole Vault Champion and athletic photographer

Jacob Thompson clearing the pole that made him GNAC Champion | Courtesy of Caleb Dunlop

Jacqueline Hixssen, Staff Reporter

Jacob Thompson, CWU’s sports information student assistant, told a story of he and his friends having a competition to see who could climb the highest up a gate outside his high school in Oahu, Hawaii years ago. On the other side of the fence was his high school pole vault coach who influenced him to take on the sport, according to Thompson.

“He didn’t yell at us, we didn’t get in trouble for anything, but he just asked me ‘Hey have you ever thought about doing pole vault?’” Thompson said. ”I told him ‘not really’ and brushed it off.”

Later that year, the coach became Thompson’s math teacher and kept subtly asking Thompson until he finally caved and tried the sport. 

Thompson is currently CWU’s sports information student assistant. He covers most home games for CWU and also covers special events including the hall of fame inductions.

Thompson also won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship for pole vault. 

The GNAC Championships would be the last time senior Thompson laced up his spikes, but he said it was the first time he was labeled a champion. 

“It’s weird because this is the first time I have been the champion of anything,” Thompson said. “It’s very fitting for my definition because that was the peak of my career. It was my very last meet and I am so stoked we ended like that.”

Thompson secured gold at the GNAC championships after clearing the bar at 15-feet 2.25-inches.

“I was just riding a crazy high … I could see that the bar was still resting on top of the pegs and I couldn’t believe it,” Thompson said. “I turned to the side of the track where my parents were standing; I screamed and yelled. I was so excited.”

Thompson not only represents CWU through his pole-vaulting career, but also through his photography career.

After quitting football his sophomore year of high school, Thompson wanted to remain a part of the team, just as a different role.

“A bulk of my friends were made from football and a lot of them kept playing after I finished,” Thompson said. “I still wanted to support them and kind of cheer them on.”

According to Thompson, one struggle his friends were having was finding pictures of themselves from their games.

“I was like, ‘well, if I’m not doing anything, if I’m just in the stands, I might as well just get pictures of my friends,’” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, when he initially started his photography journey, he stole his sister’s camera to take his shots. He said he did not realize he would have a niche for athletic photography. Track meets are busy days for all track athletes, but as a photographer, Thompson said his meet day is a little more jam packed.

“I leave my camera bag on the side, go compete and then as soon as I am done, I take like a five-minute break and then I’ll put on my camera gear and start taking pictures,” Thompson said.

After graduation Thompson has two different routes he may take.

“I am applying to graduate school right now and I am also starting to apply for some photo internships … I applied to both of them so we are seeing what comes back,” said Thompson.

He will be graduating after spring quarter with a degree in psychology and a minor in exercise science. He said he hopes to get his master’s degree in sport and performance psychology.