Johnny Graham was a 4 sport athlete at Greendale High School, many, many, many years ago. He pole vaulted in high school (PR 13 feet) and then went to UWSP for baseball, instead of track. He has been coaching boys and girls pole vault for 20 years. He started out at Greendale but has since spent 14 years at Wisconsin Lutheran High School. He has also coached at the college level at Wisconsin Lutheran College (D3) and the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee (D1). Johnny is married to Tina and has two children-Alexandra and Jackson.
In his coaching tenure his Wisco vaulters have over 20 Conference Championships, they qualified for the State Championship 32 times, while placing 10 times on the podium and 7 of them as All-State vaulters and 1 State Champion.
His top 2 Wisco girls of all time - Hailey Orlowski (12' 7") and Taylor Corkum (11' 9") are the top 2 private school girl vaulters in Wisconsin State history. Hailey is currently the 8th best female vaulter in overall Wisconsin history. His top male vaulter all time - Christian Lucchesi (15' 6") is tied for 1st all time for private schools in Wisconsin.
I love the sport of pole vault and coaching the kids to help make them into the best vaulters they can be. Not every vaulter has the God-given athletic ability to be a champion, but every vaulter can set and reach their own goals and have the same feeling of accomplishment. I strive for safety and progression in pole vault practice and through that, my vaulters become more confident and successful. I think that practice should be fun and I coach the importance of having fun vaulting while still being safe. I have been able to do this for 20 year now and I have been so blessed to have coached so many amazing kids and meet their wonderful families. To me, pole vault is more than just pole vault- the kids and their families become family to me.
Joel Cook (“Cookie”)
Joel grew up in Waukesha. As a student athlete at Waukesha North High School back in the day, he lettered in Football and Track where he sprinted and pole vaulted. Joel also graduated from UW Stevens Point in Water Chemistry and participated in intermurals. Fast forward to today, Joel lives in Ripon, WI and is a Pole Vault Coach for Ripon High School. His love and enthusiasm for the sport brought him back to vaulting when both his kids took up track in high school. Lauren transitioned from gymnastics to pole vault, long and triple jump advancing to sectionals her junior and senior years. Hunter’s accomplishments include: 4th at Div 2 - 2019 WIAA State Meet his sophomore year, 1st at 2020 USATF Wisconsin Indoor Championships, and a 3rd place finish at the 2020 AAU National Pole Vault Invitational clearing 14’6” his junior year. When not coaching, Joel enjoys fishing and juggling. “Hunter and I feel so fortunate to have found our second home here at Polebenders as soon as we met Johnny and Jenn. Who would have ever thought I would find my way back home to Waukesha to vault!” Joel holds USATF Coach and SafeSport Certifications, AAU Positive Coaching Alliance Certification, NFHS Accredited Interscholastic Coach, and current certification with the Pole Vault Safety Certification Board.
Daniel competed in many sports throughout his school years but nothing compared to pole vault and he gave up a decade of wrestling and skateboarding to pole vault. Johnny was the one to introduce him to the sport and he still tells the story of Dan's first day of practice at Wisco. While at Wisco he broke the school record leaving it at 14'6", qualifying for State twice, and achieving a 3rd place finish there his senior year.
He went on to vault at UW-Whitewater and continues to help the team when he can, you can usually find him officiating the pole vault at their home meets. He currently coaches the girls pole vault at Brookfield East high school where he has had a state qualifier and a Greater Metro Conference champion.