Thursday 24 January 2019
  • :
  • :

OLIVIA GEISEL : A New Sand Shark

story by Cindy Reid     photos by Paul Nurnberg
The college experience is many things. It is the classes, of course, and it is the long days on campus and the long nights in the library. And for some students it is the extracurricular activities that make their college years so memorable. For many students’ college athletics are a continuation of the competitions of their childhood and high school years .Within the collegiate athletics world there are a massive amount of teams and competitions. Everything from football to archery. From soccer to golf.
Within each sport is a variety of specialized niches. Within the track and field world there are several such specialized events. One is the pole vault.
The pole vault- a competitive track and field event, one of the four “jumping events” in which an athlete uses a long fiberglass or carbon fiber pole to jump over a bar.   It has been a women’s Olympic medal event since 2000 but the sport goes back as far as the ancient Greeks. To a spectator it can look intimidating but to University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) incoming freshman athlete Olivia Geisel, it is her favorite sporting event.
High School Track
Olivia attended Mauldin High School in Greenville, South Carolina and graduated in 2018. In high school Olivia was on the track team all four years. In her freshman and sophomore years she competed in the 800 meter and the 1 mile events. But then, as she says, “I saw other girls competing in the pole vault and I thought it looked really cool. I decided to learn how to do it myself.      It took a while to learn the technique but once you do, it really is fun.” For her junior and senior years Olivia changed it up and started competing in the 400 meter and pole vault events. Her dedication and hard work paid off when she went to the South Carolina track state qualifiers in her junior and senior years of high school. Her high school career culminated when she matched her Mauldin High School pole vault record of 9 feet 6 inches.
USCB Beaufort
Olivia first learned about the USCB Beaufort campus at a college fair and she was able to come down and tour the campus last summer. Beaufort’s small town charm and lowcountry beauty won her over right away. The academics were just what she was looking for and, as an added bonus, the new dorms made a great impression. Olivia says, “I really loved the campus and the new apartment style dorms were very nice. I also liked the fact that the college is so close to the beach.”
The brand new Student Honors dorms are on Boundary Street near downtown Beaufort. Built in the apartment style, the units have four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, full-size kitchen and a washer and dryer. Wi-Fi and parking are also on site. She was also interested in being a Sand Shark on the Women’s Track and Field team.
Now enrolled in her freshman year at USCB Beaufort, Olivia is a student in the Honors Nursing program and living in the new Honors dorm. (The Beaufort College now has Honors Programs in Biology, Nursing and Lowcountry Studies.) She says she chose nursing “because several of my aunts and for a time, my grandmother, were all nurses and their experiences made such a positive impression on me of the nursing profession.”
Although USCB Beaufort is part of the University of South Carolina system which includes the Bluffton and Hilton Head campuses, all of Olivia’s classes this year are on the Beaufort campus. She says her goal is to be a pediatric ICU nurse, although she doesn’t rule out looking into pre-med sometime in the future.USCB Women’s Track and Field
“Since the launch of the USCB athletics program in 2007, the Sand Sharks have quickly grown into one of the strongest overall programs in the Sun Conference and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). USCB sponsors nine varsity sports , baseball, softball, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s track & field and has qualified teams or individuals for postseason competition in all nine. USCB’s men’s and women’s golf programs are perennial top-25 powers. “(
The women’s track and field team is lead by Head Track & Field Coach / Head Cross Country Coach Bernard Gaither, who was named Sun Conference Coach of the Year for men’s and women’s track & field after coaching the Sand Sharks to both team titles in 2017.
Olivia is on the Women’s Track and Field team for the Sand Sharks, and says she is looking forward to being part of the team and learning from the coaching staff. As it is right now, she will be competing in the pole vault event.
When asked what she does for fun in the free time between a full course load and being on the track & field team, she answers easily, “I love hiking and camping and being outdoors!”

What do people not know about pole vaulting?
Olivia says, “I think a lot of people think it looks scary or hard but it really isn’t either, it’s just a lot of fun!”
So come out and cheer Beaufort’s Sand Sharks on!
For further information on USCB:
For further information on the Beaufort College Honors programs:
For further information on the USCB athletics program: