Athlete of the Week: Cape’s Brozefsky wasn’t afraid to jump into new events

Cape Henlopen High senior Olivia Brozefsky became a top-notch pole vaulter while still remaining a solid runner. She probably would have appeared in a number of different events for the Vikings this spring. Submitted photo

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school spring sports season canceled, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Cape Henlopen High’s Olivia Brozefsky our readers’ poll for girl’s track & field.)

LEWES — Olivia Brozefsky admits it.

One of the reasons she took up the pole vault three years ago was so she wouldn’t have to do quite as much running.

The sophomore was running in four events for the Cape Henlopen High girls’ track & field team at the time.

“I figured if I start a field event, they can’t make me run four events,” she said. “I kind of wanted to try something new and see if I could get out of running so much.”

It turned out to be a pretty good trade-off for both Brozefsky and the Vikings.

Brozefsky became a top-notch pole vaulter while still remaining a solid runner. The senior probably would have appeared in a number of different events for Cape this spring.

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the DIAA state championship meet would have been held this weekend at Dover High.

In this year’s pre-season, Brozefsky was learning how to high jump. Besides distance running and the pole vault, she could also run the hurdles and compete in the triple jump.

Brozefsky won a pair of Sussex County titles in cross country. Delaware State News file photo

“She’s definitely one of the most versatile athletes who’s come through Cape Henlopen,” said Vikings’ coach Tim Bamforth. “You don’t find too many kids that have that versatility.

“She was one of those kids where I could say, ‘OK, today you’re in the triple jump.’ And she won’t set the world on fire but she’s going to go out and jump 33 feet. Or ‘We need you in the hurdles today,’ or ‘We need you in the mile relay today.’ She’s so coachable. She works hard, she does what’s she supposed to do and she’s pretty talented.”

Brozefsky had long ago proven herself to be a quality runner.

When she was just a sixth-grader at Beacon Middle School, she was a member of a nationally-ranked 3,200-meter relay team. As a freshman at Cape, Brozefsky won the indoor 3,200 at the Henlopen Conference meet.

In cross country, she won the Sussex County girls’ title in both her sophomore and junior years.

It all started when she ran in a 5K with her family as a youngster. Bamforth saw her in the event and told Brozefsky she should take up the sport.

“I started taking it a little more seriously then,” she said. “But I didn’t really realize I would get that good at it. I was just kind of doing it for fun.”

But Brozefsky’s progress in the pole vault was especially interesting because she made so much improvement in a short time.

Two years ago, she won the conference title with a leap of 9-feet, 6-inches. By this past winter, Brozefsky set Cape’s indoor record — and finished second in the DIAA state meet — with a jump of 10-feet.

Bamforth said Brozefsky was consistently clearing 10-6 in outdoor practice this year. That height was good enough to break the school outdoor mark of 10-3.

In this year’s pre-season, Olivia Brozefsky was learning how to high jump. Besides distance running and the pole vault, she could also run the hurdles and compete in the triple jump. Submitted photo

It takes some courage to compete in the pole vault. Bamforth said that Brozefsky — who likes to surf and skateboard — has that.
“If you have fear,” said Bamforth, “you’re not going to make out well in the pole vault.”

“I tried to have other teammates start it,” said Brozefsky. “But they’ll get too scared and they’ll back out.

“But it’s fun. And when you have fun doing it, you just want to keep doing it. … I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt. But, myself, I never really had any bad falls.”

A lot of times, high school pole vaulters have to learn how to improve on their own. Bamforth said Brozefsky has gotten help from Vikings’ boys’ pole vaulters Bryan Ciabattoni and Giovanni Bendfeldt.

“It’s a technique event,” said Bamforth. “However, Olivia is very talented and picks up things very quickly. And she worked hard at it.

“There were times this year, it would be 5:30 and I would say, ‘Olivia, it’s time to pack up.’ Or, it’s six o’clock, ‘Olivia, it’s time to pack up.’ She would work hard. As long as I’d let her, she would be out there vaulting.”

“At first, I was just having fun doing it with my friends,” said Brozefsky. “Then I started getting better at it and I started taking it more seriously.”

Brozefsky was looking forward to taking her shot at the school record before she graduates. But the cancellation of the high school season might also mark the end of her competitive career for the Delaware-bound 18-year-old from Lewes.

With school closed, it’s been a few months since Brozefsky has even done any pole vaulting.

“I can run anywhere I want but I can’t really build a pit in my backyard,” said Brozefsky, who’s thinking of majoring in physical therapy. “I definitely miss it.

“We were going into it (the season) really excited because we had a solid team this year. It took a little bit (to get over) but there’s nothing really you can do about it.”