Julia Fixsen Clears the Bar, but Aims Higher


State record holder, 2x pole vault state champion, SEC indoor champion, and NCAA National Indoor 3rd place pole vault finisher. Julia Fixsen is one of the most accomplished pole vaulters in the country currently but is aiming higher as a member of the Virginia Tech track and field team. 

We at MileSplit Minnesota recently caught up with Fixsen to talk about her collegiate career, her future goals, and her past track and field success in Minnesota. 

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Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments have you had to make in order to be as successful as possible?

To me, competing has been the same in high school and college. The only difference is I compete in one event. I've always told myself that pole vaulting is the same everywhere I go - I have a pole in my hand, a runway beneath my feet, and a bar in front of me. The most important part I needed to learn in college is to not compare myself to other girls jumping at meets. Often times I would look at the other girls' jumps and wish I could look like them. However, comparison is the thief of joy! I learned very quickly I should only compare me to me, trust the work I put in it, and jump the way I know how.

What athletic-based goals do you hope to accomplish during this upcoming year?

My goal is to always be better than who I was last year. My focus this year is confidence and mental toughness. It's a focus I try to implement in my everyday life - on and off the runway. An unwavering confidence in myself, my coach, my pole, and my God, will be the only way for me to jump over 15' and win the ACC & NCAA Championships. 

Do you have any advice that you can offer an incoming freshman on how to best deal with the higher level of competition they'll encounter at the college level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands?

#1 Never put yourself down by comparing yourself to others. Instead, hold sturdy confidence in who you are and surround yourself with things that bring you joy and lift your spirits. Your focus is where you will eventually end up... set your focus up! 

Balance with school and training is everything. It can be difficult to navigate; especially when you want to be the best in both. The tip I use in both areas is to not get caught up on one thing for too long - let go of the bad practices, bad grades, and days you accidentally sleep in too long. Let those moments be learning moments - not soul-crushing, end-of-the-world type stuff. Continue to focus on your goals, in both areas, and keep moving forward. 

You had a fantastic track and field season last year finishing 3rd indoors and 5th outdoors at NCAA nationals in the pole vault. How does it feel to be among the best of the best in the NCAA?

It's a reminder to me that I have worked for this. It's not by accident I'm in this position today. It's definitely a confidence booster, but it doesn't enable me to be complacent. I still have to work for my spot and hit the marks. In all honesty though, I don't think about it too much - no matter where I'm jumping, I'm just thankful to be able to do what I do. 

With those great finishes last year, how do you plan on improving on those finishes this year?

Some may not know, but last season I had surgery on my foot 1 month before I transferred to Virginia Tech - limiting my fall speed and strength training. My first day holding a pole and jumping was Nov. 1, 2021. Only a few months later, I jumped a lifetime best. That gets me hyped up!

Now in my second year at Virginia Tech, I am mostly healthy. With fall training and numerous jump sessions under my belt, I feel stronger and more confident going into this season. Every year has its challenges and obstacles, but it will be my FAITH and CONFIDENCE that will take me to the next level.

What went into your decision to transfer from Georgia to Virginia Tech where you're now at?

In all honesty, I didn't want to transfer. I loved UGA. I loved the team, the school, and the community I was surrounded with. However, when our head coach at the time decided to leave, I was completely shocked and left heartbroken. The entire structure of the UGA track team changed - leaving me without a pole vault specific coach and questions of should I stay or should I go? Despite the dreadful sacrifice, I knew I had to leave and find a coach who could guide me through the highly technical event and help me grow. 

Within the network of outstanding college coaches, Bob Phillips at Virginia Tech stood out to me as being one of the most respected and experienced coaches in the NCAA. I was attracted to the rich history of elite vaulters, such as; Deakin Volz, Rachel Baxter, and Bridget Williams (Guy). I was inspired by the focus and support Virginia Tech had to the event, and decided it was the best place for me. 

What have been the highlights of your college career to this point?

Winning the SEC Indoor pole vault title and having a successful year in 2022 despite coming back from surgery AND transferring are highlighted in my mind. Through these moments, I've learned how to win, how to lose, and how to persevere through hard times. They have revealed, to myself, what I am capable of... and fill me with hope and confidence for the future. 

Looking back to high school, what are some valuable lessons you learned there that made you into the person you are today?

High school feels a little like a blur to me at this point, but one of the major life lessons I learned while pole vaulting in high school is to not focus on failure or success, but rather, focus on the progress. It's the slow and steady; it's the cultivation of constituency and growth that breads value - to which goes beyond pole vault.  

Related: Minnesota Girls All-Decade Team: Vertical Jumps

What high school accomplishment were you most proud of?

Making the US World U20 team - competing internationally for the first time.

Outside of track and field, what are you up to?

If I'm not vaulting, I'm obsessing over branding, marketing, art, photography, and "the designs"... graphic design, interior design, website design... basically I'm obsessed with Pinterest and ideas. Oh, and cats!