This Innocent Pole Vaulter Became Viral For All The Wrong Reasons
The internet has a power many can't comprehend. One day, an innocent young woman was trying to better herself, and the next day strangers were attempting to stalk her. That scenario might not be the case for everyone, but many women online have similar stories. Someone whose life became the audience for thousands through online mediums is Allison Stokke. The pole vaulter who just wanted to become better at the sport was thrust into the limelight because of how quickly things are able to become viral on the internet. That's what happened to Allison Stokke and this is her story.
A Talented And Successful Student Athlete
Go to any given track and field event and you're bound to see hundreds of athletes competing. In 2007, Stokke was one of these athletes you would just see passing by at a track meet.
Working part-time modeling in high school, Stokke also put in a lot of work to make a name for herself pole vaulting, breaking countless records along the way. Soon, things changed drastically once a photographer captured the perfect photo of her. It was like she became a national sensation overnight.
Who Exactly Is She?
On March 22, 1989, the future star pole vaulter Allison Stokke was born. She grew up with her parents and older brother out in California, and she was surrounded by sports since her youth. Her brother David was great at gymnastics and competed at the national level.
Stokke was also pushed into the world of gymnastics due to the success of her brother. She tried it, but soon learned it wasn't the sport for her. Thus, making her go out and find a sport she would enjoy.
Finding Her Calling
Sometimes, finding the thing you're passionate about only takes one try. After searching for a sport she would enjoy, Stokke instantly fell in love with pole vaulting the moment she picked up the pole and started running with it.
What makes it even better is that Stokke believed she would be great at pole vaulting. Perfecting her craft immediately, Stokke soon became one of the youngest and most successful around the country. At 15-years-old, Stokke won the U.S. title by clearing 12.5 feet!
The Freshman With The Records
During Stokke's freshman year, she pushed herself extremely hard to better her skills and herself. It all ended up paying off when she began breaking her own records. It started when she improved her 12.5 jump and jumped 12 feet and eight inches.
After her freshman year, Stokke raised the bar again (literally.) She cleared 13 feet and five inches which is a whole foot higher than her U.S. title winning jump she accomplished at only 15.
The Accomplished Senior
When Stokke's senior year arrived, you can imagine she had a ton of activities to juggle. Along with her studies, she also had a strenuous training schedule to stay on top of. It never slowed her down as she knew it was all worthwhile. She was slowly but surely becoming a nationally recognized pole vaulter.
Stokke was running through her leagues like clockwork winning medal after medal. Her senior year was also the year she topped her record again! She jumped over a whopping 13 feet and six inches.
The Infamous Picture
Life seemed to be going so well for the young star. Then in 2007, things went in the wrong direction after someone took a picture of her during a pole vaulting event. Stokke was only 17 at the time. The photo consisted of her waiting on the runway for her turn.
Not too long after, the photo was posted online and a blog called "With Leather" reposted it. Their clientele is all men, and their content is usually young women. That was a recipe for disaster.
Allison The Internet Sensation
The blog that reposted the photograph already had a shady reputation and made things worse with the demeaning caption they used. They didn't highlight Stokke's actual talent, but you can imagine how they framed it. As a result, the picture had a negative impact on Stokke's life.
After becoming a viral across multiple platforms and seeing the impact it was having on Stokke, the original photographer tried to take action. He spoke with the original website and threatened to sue if they didn't remove the photo. Unfortunately, it was too late, as the internet had already claimed the picture...
Crushing On Allison
As the first photo was making its rounds on the internet, Stokke fan clubs and websites started to surface (from one picture?) The strange part is that these sites and clubs began to uncover other images of Stokke to post on their websites, giving the people more to enjoy.
Comments on these pictures would be from men talking about how Stokke was their internet crush. Slowly but surely, these websites grew even larger, and Stokke was stuck in the middle of this media onslaught.
Gaining International Traction
The power of the internet is real. Pretty soon, Stokke's name was being mentioned overseas. She had officially gained an international fanbase, whether she wanted it or not. The blogs and websites continued to post Stokke, but on a larger scale now.
The Washington Post and the New York Times eventually posted her. Germany and the UK started broadcasting about Stokke, her photo, and all of her internet fame. Australia even featured her on one of their popular talk shows.
Attempting To Take Control
Stokke became disturbed by all of this attention stemming from the wrong place. After spending so many years perfecting her craft just to become noticed for something other than that can be quite infuriating. Afterall, this all happened without her permission.
Soon, she had to put on her game face and take matters into her own hands. She soon found out that the internet was too powerful to overcome. Stokke had to hire a manager in charge of taking care of all her calls and emails.
Organizing An Interview
Sometimes, trying to douse the fire only spreads it even more. When Stokke went into action trying to prevent her name from being circulated for the wrong reasons, she didn't expect it would backfire.
Stokke set up an interview with a large media outlet to help shift the focus on her. In the interview, she discussed pole vaulting matter solely and gave tips to budding women in the field. Sadly, commenters on the YouTube video continued to bring up her beauty and physique.
Receiving Help From Her Father
Realistically, Stokke couldn't handle this whole mess by herself. Luckily, Stokke's father was a practicing lawyer who made it his sole mission to keep strangers and danger away from his daughter. The last thing Stokke wanted was unwanted attention.
Her dad went on YouTube for hours marking potentially threatening people who left comments on videos involving his daughter. He was checking to see if anything said was illegal. Removing the immediate danger didn't help with the lasting issues, however.
CBS Network's Attempt To Help
In light of all that Stokke had to deal with, she still attempted to find the positives in a crowd of negatives. The photos of her were still going viral, so CBS tried to use her situation as somewhat of a warning to other young women.
Their broadcast highlighted how easy it was to make vulnerable young women public figures with the snap of a picture. No consent is needed, so CBS highlighted the dangers of this caused by social media and the internet at large.
Hard Work Down The Drain?
Athletes might be able to relate to this more. Actually, anyone that has put countless hours into anything will understand as well. The fact that this viral photo cast a massive shadow over Stokke's true talent made her quite upset.
After all those years of beating her own records and building a buzz, Stokke's life of pole vaulting was almost nonexistent to the public eye. One search on Google for her and you would get one million results on her by 2010. The vast majority of these results were not about her sport.
The College Life
After all that unnecessary attention Stokke obtained, she was ecstatic to get out of the limelight for a while during her time in college. With those phenomenal pole vaulting skills, she earned a full scholarship to UC Berkeley. This allowed her to stay close to family and friends in California.
During this time, the star athlete kept a profile so low, you would have thought she fell off the map. She rarely posted on her social media accounts, and this allowed her to stay out of sight, out of mind for a few years.
Still Up To Her Old Tricks
With attempts to stay away from the media and press, Stokke channeled her attention back on the pole vaulting runway and school work. With her determination, she excelled in both fields as she was able to in high school as well.
By the time she was done competing in college at Cal, she had earned a masters degree in sociology, and set new records in track. Every competition she was in, Stokke would religiously place in the top ten.
As Stokke sharpened her skills over the years, 2012 was fast approaching. Any athlete who takes their sport seriously will tell you that the Olympics is on their mind. Stokke trained harder than she ever had leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London.
When the time came to qualify for the Olympics, there Stokke was, ready to perform. Sadly, she slimly missed the mark and her chance to represent America. The part that had to hurt is that she's cleared 14 feet before, but she couldn't get it when it mattered most.
Stokke Takes On Modeling... She's A Natural!
2015 was the year Stokke decided to put her pole vault aside and throw herself into her modeling career. Remember, she did this part-time in high school, so it wasn't too unfamiliar for her. She finally chose to respond to the numerous brands asking her to model their clothes.
That same year, she ended up on Nike's spring and summer collections and worked for the sports brand, Athleta. Is it really a surprise that she quickly took the modeling world by storm?
Inhale The Love
It seems like Stokke knows how to cause a fuss on the internet without even trying. At the end of 2016, she was making headlines again as it looked like she and Rickie Fowler were more than just friends. They were seen together at the Motocross Grand Pix, cozied up.
The speculations grew even more significant after the pair posted pictures of them together on their social media sites. That deed pretty much seals the deal in today's society.
A Picture Perfect Relationship
If you're unaware of who Rickie Fowler is, no worries. He's a professional golfer who just isn't as popular as some of the others. One thing that he and his girlfriend Stokke have in common is that they both gained some level of attention through a viral photo.
It took months for the speculation to die down, but soon enough one of Rickie's teammates spilled the beans on the "secret" relationship. After the couple's business became public, their love did as well.
Fowler and Stokke Are Engaged
On June 8, 2018, Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke announced that they were engaged. After dating for around a year, Stokke posted an image on Instagram of Fowler bent on one knee on the beach, and her falling to her knees to say yes.
Elated, she captioned the image,"Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And happy national best friend day to my best best best friend! I love you!!!" Even without knowing either of them personally, it's easy to see the love between the two professional athletes.
Of Course She Can Golf
Being the incredibly talented athlete that she is, Allison Stokke wasn't shy to pick up a golf club and join her future hubby on the links. While not all wives of golf pros enjoy their significant others' passion, Stokke dove right in.
Here she is in Jersey City, New Jersey, looking like a complete natural with a swing full of prowess. Random members of the press won't dare hassle her now, as her athlete stardom is on lock down.
She'll Caddy For Her Man
While in Augusta, Georgia for Fowler's Masters Golf Tournament in April 2018, Stokke showed her support. Not only did she travel with him and show up to watch, Stokke donned the caddy uniform with a big smile.
There's no doubt that others are inspired by the young couple joking around and having so much fun while achieving their dreams. It's obvious that their fame has not gone to their heads, and they are still down to earth.
They Moved To Florida, And They're Doing Just Fine
Allison Stokke was born and raised in Newport Beach, California, and attended college in Berkeley, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fowler also grew up in Southern California, in Murrieta, located just inland of the coastal area Stokke grew up.
Instead of opting to settle down in their native Southern California, however, like many golfers, Fowler made the move to Florida, and Stokke went with him. Still living by the beach with amazing warm weather to enjoy the outdoors, the couple seems to be acclimating well to their new home.
Together, They Train Like Champions
Part of what makes Stokke and Fowler's relationship so strong is that they both have strong drive and discipline, and love working out. They've settled into a new gym space in Florida where they spend quality time working out and pushing each other.
"Feels good to get back at it! Got myself an East Coast training partner too," Stokke posted to Instagram. Having someone to work out with can help with motivation and morale, and now these two will have each other forever.
She's A Voice For Female Athletes
When she's not pushing herself to be the best person and athlete she can be, Stokke is being a voice for women's sports. She recognizes the struggles that comes with being a young woman, and has read the research to know that young girls need the extra push and support to stick with their sports.
She posted to Instagram, "Did you know that by the age of 14 girls drop out of sports at two times the rate of boys? We have lows and highs--probably more disappointment than success--but it's all about how we overcome and move forward to ultimately improve! This is an example of a recent mishap, i.e., pole break, resulting in a broken finger and a few weeks away from pole vaulting. This has me sidelined for a bit, but I will be back even stronger. Let's inspire the next generation of girls to redefine what it means to be powerful!"
She's The Ultimate Fitspo
With social media in full force, people are turning to Instagram and Pinterest for fitness inspiration. The tag #fitspo has over 58 million photos tagged on Instagram! Stokke is aware of this, but doesn't play into the hype.
Instead of flaunting her abs in gym selfies, Stokke's social media presence consists of strong imagery in her workouts, and fell-good, active lifestyle posts. Although she has a killer bod that other women envy, her social media is about power and inclusivity.
She Surrounds Herself With Positive, Fit People
Motivational speakerJim Rohn famously said that you're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. If that's true, Stokke has definitely set herself up for success. When she's not training with her future hubby or coaches, she's hitting the gym with her equally-athletic friends.
One of her friends is Shaylah Simpson, who is also a professional pole vaulter. She's just as active and outdoorsy as Stokke, and together they push each other to be their best.
Reveling In Her Accomplishments
While staying humble and grounded, Allison Stokke is also enjoying all that she's accomplished in her 29 years. While few athletes make it to the highly competitive collegiate level that she did, even fewer make it beyond that.
Stokke has put in the hard work to set-up a bright future for herself, and continuing an athletic career that she can be proud of. She photographs well as a strong female and is doing her family and sponsors proud.
The Sky Is The Limit
The future is bright and wide open for 29-year-old Allison Stokke. She's set herself up for success and found the love of her life in the process. As her modeling and athletic career push forward, there's no doubt that we'll be seeing more of Allison.
While she may not have chosen the way she gained international recognition, now that the world knows who Stokke really is, they love her even more. This is the story of a young woman who took control of her life and made it the best it could possibly be.
Expecting a Baby
In June 2021, the happy couple announced that they were expecting a baby the following November. Allison's caption, "Coming in November... @rickiefowler might find himself a little outnumbered" may hint at the fact that they're having a baby girl, which was later confirmed.
The golf pro has been shooting well on the green during his wife's pregnancy and captioned his announcement post, "Reservation for November... Fowler, party of three #girldad."
Paige Spiranac Has Been Playing Golf All Her Life
Like many kids, Paige Spiranac played a few different sports as a young girl, including golf. The game became such an infatuation for the athlete that her friends and family weren't surprised when she went on to play at the collegiate level.
She competed on the women's golf team at the University of Arizona and San Diego State University. While playing in college, Paige did exceptionally well, winning various championships and titles.
Winning At The Collegiate Level
From the 2012 through the 2014 seasons, Paige brought home the All-Mountain West Conference title for San Diego State University. She also went on to help the Aztecs women's golf team win their first-ever Mountain West Conference title.
Even so, the women’s golf community is small. She didn’t necessarily get a lot of attention. That is until she started doing something very specific on social media. Then, Paige was getting a boatload of attention!
Social Media And Trick Shots
While in school, Paige began to use her social media accounts, specifically Instagram, to post videos of her performing various trick shots. The short clips gained her a huge audience, something she wasn't expecting at all!
Her following is so large, over two million, that she is technically considered a social media personality. That’s not too bad at all for an athlete who posted some videos just for fun.
Life After College And A Championship Win
Of course, her time in college had to come to an end. In July of 2015, people finally saw Paige away from the Aztecs and on her own, playing in the Colorado Women's Golf Association Match Play Championship.
After her 35-hole title match against Brittany Fan of the University of Colorado Boulder, Paige was able to snag the win with nine holes under par. This is the same year, Paige began to get quite the following.
She Grew Up A Gymnast
When she was growing up, Paige had huge dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast. At a young age, she was even invited to train at the Karolyi Ranch. However, the universe had other plans for the young girl… big plans.
She broke her kneecap not once, but twice during training. Sadly, Paige was also bullied by peers for her Olympic dreams. Both events had her quitting before she made it to the podium.
Starting Off Her Career With Five Titles
It's safe to say it didn’t take long for Paige to become a master of the sport. Just starting off, the young girl won five titles in the Colorado junior golf circuit. Then, in 2010, she went on to win Connecticut Women’s Golf Association Junior Stroke Playback.
This was just the beginning of Paige’s long and successful golfing career, though. Next, the young player was headed off to college, where she was going to make waves!
2016: The Year She Turned Pro
While Paige was gaining a huge following as an amateur golfer, 2016 brought a whole different can of worms. It was the year Paige could finally call herself a professional golfer, after coming in 9th at the CoBank Colorado Women's Open.
Along with being able to leave the course calling herself a pro, Paige also walked away with a prize of $1,750! It’s not nearly as much as seasoned professionals make at the end of a win, but it’s a start.
Heading To College
Considering all of the titles and championships she won as a junior player, it's not hard to imagine all of the schools wanting to recruit Paige. One of these schools was the University of Arizona, where she earned a scholarship.
Although she didn’t stay with the Arizona Wildcats for the duration of her college career, Paige sure did make it known that she was a contender on the course, even as a freshman.
She Shot A Personal Best of 73
While Paige played as a freshman for the Arizona Wildcats during the 2011-2012 season, she shot a personal best of 73, twice! More remarkably, she was able to shoot that score twice when she only played in three events.
But the school wasn't a good fit. And after her first year, Paige decided she wanted a change of scenery. So, she uprooted herself from Arizona and moved to southern California and San Diego State University.
San Diego State University Proved To Be The Right Move For Paige
As it so happens, the transfer was the right move for the student-athlete. During the 2012-2013 season, Paige obtained sixth-place Mountain West Championship honors, the 19th finish during the NCAA Central Regional Championships, First-Team All-Mountain West honors, and fifth-place Cal Classic honors.
Not too bad for her first year on the women's team at San Diego State! And that was only her second year in college. This golfer was just starting to show what she was made of.
Paige Was Second-Team All-Mountain West Honors
After a stellar 2012-2013 season, people were excited to see what Paige was going to bring to the team as a junior during the 2013-2014 season. As it turned out, she didn't disappoint.
As an upperclassman, Paige went on to achieve Second-Team All-Mountain West Honors as well as a top ten finish at the Mountain West Championship. It’s safe to say Paige had a very bright golf career ahead of her after college.
Senior Year: Winning The Mountain West Conference Championship Title
Of course, after three amazing years playing at the collegiate level, it only makes sense that Paige's college golfing career went out with a bang. During her final season playing with the San Diego State University women’s golf team, Paige helped the lady Aztecs win their first-ever Mountain West Conference Championship title.
According to Paige, winning the title was "one of the absolute happiest moments of my life." Ironically, the title was just the start of Paige’s career.
Her Followers Went From 10,000 To 100,000
In 2015, Paige began to see a huge uptick in her social media followers. Who does she have to thank for the exposure, you might ask? The follower explosion is all in thanks to a Total Frat Move article that encouraged people to check out the golfer.
In just two days, the number of followers on Paige's Instagram account went from being under 10,000 to 100,000. That’s a crazy uptick in the world of social media!
Other Social Media Platforms
While the golfer has only one win under her belt as a pro, she is still a huge social media personality and one of the main faces for women's golf. Aside from Instagram, people also follow Paige on Twitter.
The athlete actually uses the platform to help promote some of her other business ventures, including her podcast. One of her tweets said, "Idk if you heard, but I have a podcast. A golf podcast… So yeah, please listen. I’d very much appreciate that!"
Ironically, She's Camera Shy
While she is very active on social media, promoting the sport, her podcast, and teaching various tips and tricks of golf, Paige is ironically very camera shy. To get over her fear, Paige actually went as far as launching her own YouTube channel.
She wanted to get over the fear of sharing her thoughts with strangers over the internet. And considering she very much enjoys talking about golf and helping people with their game, it was definitely something she had to get over!
CyberSmile And Anti-Bullying
It's a good thing Paige was able to get over her camera fright since she uses her social media platform for more than posting selfies. Instead, Paige uses her platforms to help the greater good, such as being involved with groups like CyberSmile.
This anti-bullying group is something near and dear to Paige’s heart, as she was a victim of bullying during her youth. In the group, she opens up about her experiences with bullies and low self-esteem, hoping to help someone dealing with the same thing.
Paige Has More Than One Sponsor
In fact, CyberSmile is one of the many groups sponsoring the young professional Athlete. Paige is also sponsored by Philip Stein Watches, Mizzen + Main, Parsons Xtreme Golf, and 18Birdies. She is also under contract with Golf Digest, modeling clothing for their website.
And, to answer your question, yes, the partnership and her "non-tradition golf attire" brought in a solid amount of traffic to the Golf Digest website. It might have been what put her on Sports Illustrated's radar!
She Was On The Cover Of Sports Illustrated
While Paige has more than one sponsorship, a contract with Golf Digest, and multiple titles under her belt, one of her crowning moments was when she modeled for the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.
In 2018, Paige graced the cover of the magazine holding her sport's equipment, something other female athletes’ haven’t done in the past. And that’s not the only big moment that happened to Paige that year.
Paige Writes A Column For Golf Magazine
The year 2018 brought more to it than the cover of Sports Illustrated. It also brought a writing job for Paige. Yup, when she isn't managing her multiple social media accounts or hitting balls on the course, Paige is writing a monthly column for Golf Magazine, something she personally started for the company.
Of course, she is more focused on the sport and less on writing about it, but it’s nice to know she’s very much invested in her fans!