Jump Sam Jump. The past week has been a big week for Oxford as its own Sam Kendricks competes in the pole vaulting competitions in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Students at Bramlett Elementary up to Oxford High School, as well as the elders of the community living at Brookdale assisted living home, have been rallying support for the standout athlete. Folks are gathering around the town in anticipation of a gold medal finish for Kendricks. Signs are being posted around Oxford that read “Jump Sam Jump” and a watch party will be held at Rafters on the Square beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
Even with the great support that Sam has received on his road to Rio, the greatest support comes from his dad and former track coach, Scott Kendricks. While at Oxford High School, Sam was coached by his father. Sam recorded, at the time, his best height of 17 feet. Before he reached that goal, Sam told his father that he wanted to jump 17 feet. While it was a big dream at the time, his father supported him as they worked for it. That jump is still the high school record in Mississippi. As of today, Kendricks’ best jump is recorded at 19 feet, 5 inches.
When asked about the way that Sam has been molded by his dad, OHS principal Bradley Roberson said, “[Coach Kendricks] always got the most out of [his athletes] on the track, and I think his son, Sam, exhibits those same characteristics that he expected from all of his athletes.”
Coach Kendricks has been by Sam’s side from high school to the Olympics. When Sam graduated from Ole Miss, his dad had to make the tough decision between giving up his long career at Oxford High School and joining the Ole Miss track and field staff to continue coaching his son. In the end, the father-son bond was too special to pass up and he moved on to coach Sam at Ole Miss where Sam earned a national championship in pole vaulting.
“[Scott] has believed in [Sam] and pushed him…that father-son duo has been great to watch and a testament to the power of son-father relationships,” said Oxford High School track and field coach Chris Bush on the bond between Sam and Scott.
Yesterday, Kendricks qualified for the finals as he cleared the 5.30 meter, 5.45 meter, 5.60 meter, and 5.70 meter heights. Kendricks was the only competitor in the field who cleared every bar on the first attempt. He led the competition out of both groups and as a result was given the final slot on Monday’s finals so that he can see the height that he must beat for the gold medal.
With the innate support that this young athlete receives from his father to the widespread support around his hometown, state, and country, Sam Kendricks will jump for the gold on Monday night with his family, friends, hometown, and country at his back.