“Let The Ground Surprise You,” I heard as the coach implored his athlete to keep his form to the ground. It was the first time I had ever heard that phrase in all my years photographing elite long jumpers. I thought it was brilliant and I let him know. He said, “sometimes the athletes just need a different way to think about it.” Good long jumpers seem to explode off the board, sell out in the air, fly pretty, and land hard.
Later in the day, Saturday at The 2022 Mt. SAC Relays, I was able to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I was able to photograph Tara Davis long jumping. I missed the chance when she was at Agoura High School, though I’ve seen other images and watched videos. She does all of the above. She is fearless when she jumps. Look at the composites below. She fully embodies the expression, “let the ground surprise you.”
I didn’t ask the coach his name, unfortunately. I assumed it was just an expression I had not heard. I figured I’d Google “let the ground surprise you” and find a thousand long jump references. I was wrong. There were none. There were only six results at the time. Every Google result was related to jumping out of an airplane or landing a helicopter, but none of them related to long jumping. Now I’m on a mission.
I need to find this long jump Coach and give him credit. He seemed to be local to Southern California. The guy running the long jump pit for Mt. SAC seemed to know him as did other local-to-Southern-CA coaches. He also seemed to be coaching kids from several different schools. I’d be very appreciative if you can help me hunt him down and get his name into this post!
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