Val Osipenko (“Big Val”) was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1957. In 1966 he began running track and in 1969 picked up pole vaulting. He quickly became successful in the sport. With a High School personal record of 15’9″, Val was All-Russian.
Between the years of 1978 and 1985 he trained at the Olympic reserve sports school of V. Alexeev in Leningrad, Russia, under the Russian National pole vaulting head coach, Vanady Rosenfeld along with some of the best Russian pole vaulters, such as V. Trofimenko, V. Kishkun, U. Prochorenko, and I. Trandenkov.
With a personal best of just over 18 feet, Val achieved Master of Sport. He attended a four year Coaching Sports Academy Lesgaft and became a track and field coach with a specialization in pole vault.
From 1979 to 1985 he coached at the sports school “Kirovez” in Leningrad, Russia. And from 1985 to 1989, Val coached at a Leningrad Technological University. After an almost 10 year break from coaching, Val returned to pole vaulting in 1998 by becoming a volunteer pole vault coach at Atlee High School in Mechanicsville, VA. There he coached two state champions and state record holders in pole vault.
Since returning to the sport, he has also coached several clinics including the 1998-1999 Pole Vault camp-clinics at Kutztown University with Jan Johnson, the National Safety Chairman; 1998-2001 learn-by-doing clinics at the Ashe Center in Richmond, VA, and the 1999 Nike clinic at the Ashe Center.
Val was the pole vault coach at the University of Virginia from 2001 to 2004, where he has coached two All-ACC performers and school record holders. Val also coaches at the University of Richmond. Currently, Val is concentrating on coaching the Xtreme Heights pole vaulters, who are breaking and setting records almost every week and include multiple District, Regional, State and National Champions!