WHITEHALL – Crystal Vaughn competed in pole vault as an athlete. She knows what it takes to be a willing participant, let alone succeed in the event.
Whitehall senior Charley Klint checks all the boxes.
“I’ve been helping coach pole vault for about four years now (at Whitehall) and I haven’t seen somebody come through like her. She’s got it all – perfect athlete for it, 100 percent,” said Vaughn, who noted the upper-body strength required for the event.
“You have got to be fearless doing it, 100 percent – 100 percent,” she added with a laugh.
As Klint has illustrated, she is not afraid to try any sport. And she thrives in just about everything.
This school year alone, the well-rounded, 5-foot-7 athlete was a first-team All-West Michigan Conference performer in volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter.
In the spring season that recently kicked off, Klint is trying something new for her: She’s dual-sporting, competing in soccer and track and field. She has not played soccer since her freshman year.
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
“A lot of people were asking me to play soccer and they knew I played freshman year and they needed more girls, and then my two friends – Maggie (Evans) and Ryleigh (Mott) – they were like, ‘It would be so fun our senior year,’” Klint said. “They just wanted to play with me in a sport for school one more time. They were like, ‘Just have fun and you’ll be on the team and play a lot.’ I was like, ‘I might as well.’
“I wanted to try soccer again just because I’m not going to do it after this. I want to make sure I’m doing these sports now because as soon as I’m out of high school, I won’t really get these opportunities in college.”
Klint said she is not completely certain where she will attend college, but she’s considering going to Muskegon Community College and playing volleyball for the Jayhawks.
The younger of Mark and Michele Klint’s two daughters carries a 3.8 grade-point average. She intends on pursuing a career in engineering.
Compared to her current schedule, playing one sport in college would be quite the change for Klint. But in her last-hurrah high school sports season, she has no qualms over changing back and forth from her track spikes to soccer cleats.
“She’ll do well. She can handle it. She knows what it takes to work hard,” Whitehall girls track coach Carrie Goodrich said. “Will she be a little more tired? I do worry about that a little bit. Pole vault’s hard. I mean, it’s all your strength, every jump you’re doing. I hope that she can still maintain that.
“She has the conditioning piece. I’m figuring that as being her track workouts are her soccer practices, so she’s not doing any extra interval-type workouts we’re doing. We’re going to make it work.”
On Wednesday, Klint started at forward for Whitehall’s girls soccer team in the season opener at Coopersville. On Thursday, she competed in three events and placed in two of them.
In the Vikings’ first track competition of the season, Klint cleared 9 feet in pole vault to place fourth and match her personal-record effort that she achieved four times in 2021. She finished fifth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.96 seconds, a shade behind her personal-best 9.88 in the prelims earlier in the meet. Klint also posted a PR in the 200-meter dash (29.14).
“All around, great athlete. I can put her anywhere. I can have her do our field events, I can have her do our sprints, I can have her do our hurdles. She might anchor like a 4×400 relay for me this year,” Goodrich said with a chuckle. “I can use her anywhere.
“She’s a great team leader, she works hard. Last year, after pole vault, we were usually telling her to leave because we wanted to go home and she would stay for hours and come up on the weekends. You don’t get that very often, I think, that dedication of, ‘I’m going to show up and just work hard.’ It’s kind of contagious when she’s around.”
Regardless of the sport or her team’s success level in it, Klint fits into the team scheme.
In volleyball, Klint played outside hitter for a Whitehall squad that rolled to the West Michigan Conference title, captured a second-straight Division 2 district championship and finished with a 33-7-1 record.
In basketball, the Vikings went 9-13 on the season and placed in the middle of the pack in the conference standings, but Klint was one of the top players in the league at 14.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.4 steals per game.
Whitehall girls soccer coach Adam Prince is new to the Vikings’ program, but he knows the sport and can identify raw talent when he sees it. Klint may need a little time to get re-acclimated to soccer, but Prince believes she can be a difference-maker.
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
“Charley is an exceptional athlete with even greater work ethic and attitude. I have had a couple of dual-sports players in my career, including two of three sons, who played soccer and kicked for football, so I’ve seen the pressure and wear on the kids,” Prince said.
“The difference with Charley is she is great at whatever she sets her mind to. I think with her running abilities and the way she sees the field, and with her size, she is a legit weapon going forward. As she starts to regain her comfort level on the soccer field, I believe she will become more and more dominant.”
More so than her athleticism, Klint chalks up her success to competitiveness. She’s taking aim at the school’s pole vault record, owned by Becky Bennett at 9 feet, 6.25 inches (2005).
Klint was pole vault champion in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association and West Michigan Conference meets last year in helping Whitehall capture team titles in both events.
The Vikings are looking to defend those championships. With somebody like Klint setting the example, they appear to be in good hands.
“I always want to be the best one out there, like perform my best,” Klint said. “I know I’m not always the best one – like, there’s other girls better – but when I am out there, I try and show what I can do so I’m not just, like, average.”
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