From the eyes of a coach


Zachary Araki

Senior general studies major Devin King and his coach Erica Fraley review a video of his pole vaults during practice to spot areas of improvement. Fraley has been coaching pole vault for around 10 years.

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

As athletes strive towards their goals, their coaches mentor and help them reach their dreams.

Erica Fraley began coaching Devin King in pole vault during his freshman year of high school and continued until King started college. After former track and field head coach Sean Brady took a position at Texas A&M University, Fraley resumed coaching King.

Since beginning his career in pole vaulting, King has earned a number of honors. King ranked 5th in the International Association of Athletics Federations world outdoor rankings this last spring. He tied for 17th at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. He made the LSWA All-Louisiana Team every year of his collegiate career and holds the university pole vault record. King has displayed his skill in the sport on state, national and international levels. Fraley discussed King’s athletic capabilities.

“He’s one of those kids that had really good coordination and power for his body,” said Fraley. “He played a lot of other sports growing up, baseball, football, and was really talented physically but didn’t necessarily know his own power. He had a lot of athletic ability that was almost dormant in his body. As an athlete, he had a lot of untapped potential.”

Before making his mark in college athletics, King displayed his skill in the pole vault. According to Fraley, King’s pole vault career started as a typical high school performance but progressed quickly. In 2014, King tied for 2nd at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Athletics. 

Fraley explained that being an athlete requires consistency and maturity to make wise life decisions including sleep and diet.




“I was at my best when I was 28 years old, and it wasn’t because I started young or I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Fraley. “It just takes that long to hone your craft and develop physically completely and have a good idea of what you’re trying to do with the technique part of it.”

Fraley’s experience as an athlete in high school, college and beyond serves her as a coach. She competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing before coaching high school athletes. For Fraley, the position change from athlete to coach was a natural crossover. She explained that the hardest part about being a coach for her is anticipating the struggles athletes will face.

“There are going to be ups and downs, and you can’t avoid the downs,” said Fraley. “Coaching is just as emotional as being the athlete. The athlete puts a lot of emotion into their dreams and aspirations. As a coach, you realize there’s a lot of emotion that goes into being a good coach for your athlete, helping them prepare and hope for the best, but ready to be supportive through disappointments. Coaches have more experience, so we know there’s pain along the way.”. 

Fraley described her coaching philosophy as not pushing athletes past their limits.

“I’m not a pushy coach,” said Fraley. “I’m more of a coach that wants you to find your love and joy for what you’re doing and help enhance that. My philosophy is if you bring effort, heart and desire to practice, then I can help you use that to be a better athlete.”

Whether or not Fraley will continue coaching King past graduation remains undecided. 

“He is an exceptional athlete that is world class level, and Southeastern is really fortunate to have him,” said Fraley. “He’s put Southeastern on the map as far as track and field goes with his performances.”