Noah Mumme was just about born into the pole vault. Football, he had to work on.
Mumme won the Class 2A state pole vaulting title in May, clearing 14 feet, 6 inches on his first attempt at that height. It wasn’t necessarily expected for a 10th-grader, but he had been exposed to the sport even before he had been exposed to classrooms.
In practice, Mumme began working at his football skills much earlier. As a third-grader in Alamogordo, N.M., Mumme was put at tight end because he could catch. Then, he took up his first legacy position, running with the ball.
“The year after that, fourth grade, I played running back,” Mumme recalled Wednesday. “My grandfather was a running back.”
David Mumme played running back for the Air Force Academy for two years, leading the Falcons in rushing in 1967 with 404 yards on 104 carries. He had just 26 carries in 1968, and Noah recalled that his grandfather’s career was cut short by injury.
Now a Satellite quarterback, Noah Mumme and fear are not quickly associated. Charging down a runway with a pole and throwing your own body into the air, eventually upside down, does not allow for that.
Sammy Mumme, Noah’s dad, would know. David passed the sport on to Sammy in the fourth or fifth grade.
“My dad took my brother and I to the hardware store and bought some PVC poles and said, ‘Here, you can learn how to pole vault.’ “
Before Sammy completed his own college pole vaulting career at what was then Southwest Texas State, little Noah was walking around, absorbing everything.
“Before high school, I tried to enter him in a couple of meets, but there was nobody to compete against,” Sammy said.
David Mumme’s biography as a member of the Rockland County (N.Y.) Track and Field Hall of Fame is extensive. In 1965, he placed fourth in the state pole vault, but, twice during the season, he increased the state best. At the county meet that year, he became the first New York high schooler to crack 14 feet, clearing 14-1.
Coming across an old newspaper article about David’s athletic career recently, Sammy began to see Noah’s life as a reflection of his own dad’s.
“My dad feels like I’m reliving (my grandfather’s) life,” Noah Mumme said.
But he is leaving his own history. Noah didn’t actually compete in pole vaulting until ninth grade. His dad helps to coach him for the Scorpions track and field team, and the youngest of the three generations of vaulters is already within a half foot of dad’s high school best of 15 feet.
“I think he’s definitely got more potential than I did, especially at his age,” Noah’s dad said. “He’s already taller than I am. He has more reach than me, and that helps the angle of takeoff.”
Teaching him organized football has been the job of others, for the most part. Noah was first a safety for the Scorps, but he has developed into the starting quarterback and has been tough to move from that spot, even if his speed and overall athletic ability would allow him to excel at several positions.
“We moved him around, but he blossomed into our starting quarterback,” Satellite coach Mark Carstens said. “What makes him good is his poise. Winning a state championship in the pole vault — that pressure, that grind — really changed the way he competes, in a good way. Things are slowing down for him.”
In the last game for Satellite, a home defeat against Merritt Island, Mumme couldn’t play because of an ankle injury. Even then, he was on the sideline with offensive coordinator Ted Kimmey, giving input on what might work.
“I was actually helping call plays,” Noah said, “watching what the defense was doing and finding open areas we could hit.”
Now a junior, he has passed for 813 yards and run for 136. How much he’ll play Friday at Rockledge will be determined by his recovery.
“The gait he runs with is so smooth,” Carstens said. “He’s as cool and calm as it gets, but he’s hard on himself. I don’t say a lot to him during a game, because he knows already before he comes off the field.”
He may not have to come off the football field to continue his vaulting career beyond high school. Noah has already drawn interest from scouts for his state-championship-level event. One of the schools, Yale, recently added some interest in him as a football player.
“I think one really complements the other,” Carstens said. “It’ll make him really versatile.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum and @Brian_McCallum on Twitter.
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