© Copyright – 2012 – Athletics Illustrated
Twenty-one year old Michelle Kinsella (formerly Theophille), of Whitby, Ontario competes in the first division of the NCAA for the University of Louisville Cardinals. Kinsella specializes in the high jump. She has won All-American honours multiple times and won the Hoosier Open on December 7th, the first meet of the season. She cleared her first three attempts as she jumped over the bar at 1.83m and then set the school record of 1.85m in her final attempt.
Kinsella has competed in the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships finishing tenth overall at the height of 1.74 as a 16-year-old. She is a versatile athlete who grew up playing various sports and has competed in the 400m distance while at Louisville. Her personal best at that distance is 56.37.
Personal Best Jumps
High Jump – 1.82m/5-11.50
High Jump – 1.86m/6-1.25
Christopher Kelsall: You and Margaret Harris swept the Big East Awards last week. You had a big week breaking the school’s jump record, was it just a matter of time or were you surprised to accomplish it on the day?
Michelle Kinsella: I think it was just a matter of time. I knew I would break it this year but I was really surprised to do so in our first meet, especially because of how early it was in the season, last year I didn’t open up until January. But I’ve been healthy and our squad’s workouts have been going really well and Coach Walker has been doing a really good job getting everyone prepared so it looks like it has paid off.
CK: What went right at the Hoosier Open last week to allow you to win the event and achieve the current highest jump nationally?
MK: I felt really fresh coming back from the American Thanksgiving break. We had been working really hard before that and I was pretty tired and really needed the time away, but after coming back I kind of stayed away from the high jump and had some workouts on the track and in the weight room and I was really excited again. Lately, Coach and I have been watching a lot of video of my best jumping, just to keep programming the things I want to do well, so I knew the things I wanted to focus on during the meet.
CK: Interesting about feeling fresh beforehand. How many hours a week do you spend focusing on jumps and weights?
MK: We have practice everyday for an hour or two and we lift three times a week for about an hour. But I came back to Louisville to get an early start on training right after NACAC’s, so before Thanksgiving I hadn’t had a break for quite a while.
CK: So how did you get here? What sports did you play growing up in Whitby?
MK: Growing up I started off in ballet, but I played hockey and soccer for like nine years, and during high school I played basketball for my school and a club team. Growing up my parents always made it mandatory we did some kind of sport to stay out of trouble. So when I wanted to quit basketball I had to find a new sport, and I had done high jump for my high school, and I wasn’t all that great starting off, but a coach seen me at a meet and offered to coach so that’s how I started off.
CK: What positions did you gravitate towards in hockey and soccer?
MK: I played defense in both, but high jump is different than any other team sports I’ve played. I like it more because it’s an individual sport. It’s really like I’m competing against myself most of the time. Obviously I want to win every time but my main objective is always to jump better than I ever have in the past; to PR.
CK: How was your backwards cross-over?
MK: Ha ha! It was awesome I used to be a really good skater…I’m a little rusty now.
CK: Can you tell me about your 400m experience with Louisville?
MK: After the indoor season I had tapered for so long, with having competed in Big East and a last chance meet plus indoor nationals, I was starting to get out of shape. I didn’t even do a full warm-up anymore because I was tired, so with so much of my season left I asked to run the 400m. The first time I ran I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I ran a 58.36. My coaches were impressed and as the relay is always the last event of the track meet I ran as a member of the 4x400m team since then, and I split a 56 consistently, so we were at the last chance meet at our school for outdoor nationals and I decided to run the open 400m again just to get my stats up. But running in the 4×4 relay was fun, we ended up breaking the school record at Big East and it helped me get back in shape. Surprisingly nagging injuries like my knees actually went away as I started running the 400m more, so I’m excited to run as a relay member again this year to help the team out.
CK: The sporting world is full of stories of high achieving athletes who grew up playing a broad range of sports. Did you take to it right away?
MK: In a way I would say no. When I first started I remember at OFSAA I only jumped 1.55m, and then working out with a coach for the remainder of the summer I only jumped 1.60m. But the track center where I worked out at was being resurfaced over the Christmas break so I didn’t train much at all, and in my first official club meet that new year I jumped 1.73m, to qualify me for World Youth Championships, so I guess I just kinda grew into my body a little more over that break or something, but doing well really encouraged me to keep at it.
CK: It sounds like your high school coach had good vision, then!
MK: Yes, his name was Gary Lubin and I trained with him for a little over a year before I started working with my coach in Canada now, Dermott Smith.
CK: Ballet is excellent for developing the feet and ankle area – there is great strength there. Do you feel you started with an advantage in High Jump because of your ballet?
MK: I think because it was so much before I did high jump it didn’t really give me an advantage. Although I do think it helped me with posture, I have great posture for tall girl, but my coach Dermott, always used to harp on my running. Especially when I was younger I always ran on my toes and with my toes pointed, which he always blamed ballet for.
CK: Is there a partner in life, yet? Does this person have similar interests?
MK: I’m dating Michael Edwards he’s a great high jumper. He went to Louisville, but just transferred this year. But it’s going well, we have a lot of the same goals, which makes things a lot easier.
CK: What was the deciding factor for you to choose Louisville for your post-secondary education?
MK: It’s actually a really weird story, but in the movie Elizabethtown they pass the U of L campus and it was one of my favourite movies. So anyways in high school I was receiving letters and talking to coaches from the U.S., but I wasn’t really interested, location wise I wanted to be somewhere much warmer than Ontario but within driving range so my friends and family could come visit me. So in turning down a bunch of options my mom made me send my track results out to a couple schools and U of L was my first idea. But in searching the school I realized Jake Jacoby was the track coach and I really admired him as a jumper and as a coach. He also had a good relationship with my coach at home Dermott, which was really influential.
CK: So are you getting the visitors?
MK: Yeah my mom and family have have made the trip a couple of times to watch me jump at our home meets. We usually drive at the start and end of every school year to move a lot of my things back and forth.
CK: Is she a good cheer leader for you or is she politely quiet while you compete?
MK: She is really supportive but I always ask her to be quiet so to not embarrass me. She’s actually never seen me jump over 1.75m. I always manage to do poorly when she comes to watch.
CK: You are majoring in Environmental Analysis, yes?
MK: Well my major is Geography with a concentration in Environmental Analysis, and I minored in Communication. I’m actually coming back to Louisville next year to do a graduate certificate in Real Estate Development, because I red-shirted outdoor my sophomore year. I don’t really have a clue what I want to do with those, but I try to study the areas I’m interested in so hopefully I end up in something fun.
CK: Assuming the Rio Olympics are your priority goal, between now and then do you have goals you would like to share, like NCAA Champs and medalling at the Commonwealth Games for example?
MK: Definitely! This year specifically there’s World University Games, which is my main goal to compete and medal in, but it’s also an outdoor world championship year so I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t love to qualify to compete in that as well. Toronto is also hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games which would be an amazing opportunity to attend especially being from the area. However, right now my main focus is indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships and doing the best I can while I’m still wearing my Louisville jersey. I’m going to have to make sure I set the records high so they won’t be broken anytime soon.