GoDuke.com: What has been your proudest moment at Duke?
Emily Mattoon: Probably the first time I scored any points for our team at the ECAC Championships. I think it was my sophomore year. We ended up winning as a team so I really felt like as a part of the growth in the track program that they have been working on so that was a really good moment to see how I contributed and to a whole team success as well.
GoDuke.com: What is the most misunderstood thing about your sport?
EM: I think that progress is not linear so a lot of times you will vault lower heights when you're actually vaulting better so just because your technique gets better, unfortunately it doesn't necessarily mean you will vault higher right away because when you fix one thing it usually screws everything else up. So that even though it should be a very empirical sport where if your numbers get better than your getting better, but a lot of times it doesn't work that way. It's even hard for an athlete to see that you're getting better even if the numbers don't always show it.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite part of being a Duke student-athlete?
EM: Definitely my teammates and the people that I've met and being able to be in that environment where you're with people that really help push you to be better. But sometimes in the academic world that can be a little bit of an edgy kind of competitiveness that doesn't really help you to get better. It kind of just stresses you out. I definitely feel like, with the other pole vaulters, it's in a really positive way and being able to be challenged like that has been really great to help me grow as an athlete and a leader.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite spot on campus?
EM: Probably the Duke Chapel. It's beautiful. It's really great.
GoDuke.com: Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to pass along to freshman and future Blue Devils?
EM: Find a way to make studying fun because you will get burnt out really quickly. If you can find a way to enjoy that part of life too and not really separate studying as this drudgery while everything else is fun then studying will go by faster and you will do better.
GoDuke.com: Tell us about the time when you first started playing your sport.
EM: So I started doing gymnastics when I was three and I did it competitively until I was 14. By that time I was really burnt out from it. Usually the two directions people go from gymnastics is either diving or pole vaulting and I really didn't want to do diving because again, swimming, not my thing. So my high school just so happen to have a strong pole vaulting coach and a really good pole vaulting program so I started doing it my freshman year of high school. I really liked it and doing something with my school was a big change of pace than doing something with a club. I really liked that and I really liked being able to be a part of my school which I was really missing with gymnastics.
GoDuke.com: If you could compete in any other track and field event what would it be?
EM: Probably javelin. We didn't have javelin in high school in California. I don't think I would be any good at throwing javelin, but if I could have tried something it definitely would have been javelin.
GoDuke.com: Do you have a favorite workout? Least favorite workout?
EM: My least favorite workout was the time, I think it was my sophomore year, we had to do a pool workout and I am a really inefficient swimmer. I'm definitely not the first person done with our workouts but also I'm definitely not the last. I was trailing behind everyone and even my coach was like, 'Emily, what's going on?' and I was like 'I am such a terrible swimmer' that I was like just wasting all this energy and flailing. That was definitely the hardest workout I'd done at duke and it just made me feel terrible about myself. My favorite workouts, during the fall we get to go to a gymnastics gym and do gymnastics training and I really enjoy doing that. It's really hard, but it's definitely the most fun. It's great and I think has actually helped me a lot this year with things I've been trying to fix like being able to do drills there. So I really like it.
GoDuke.com: What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
EM: This is going to sound terrible, but I really don't like putting up the Christmas lights. The greatest lesson I ever learned about democracy was when I was like seven, and my family voted whether or not to put up Christmas lights and I voted to not put them up, but the rest of my family voted that they did and I had to help with them anyway and that was when I first learned that if you are the minority don't get what you want you still have to go along with what the majority is doing. You can't just be like peace out and make your own country. So that was probably the most valuable lesson I learned about democracy as a child. But I just don't like it because everything is tangled then when you finally get it untangled one of the light bulbs is out so none of it works. Its just tedious and usually involved fighting or someone falling off the ladder.
GoDuke.com: What's your favorite midnight snack?
EM: I'm a really big juice drinker. I like drinking juice at any time of the day. Usually if I'm studying late at night a cup of apple juice would be ideal for me.