story by Tony Jones
Maybe you have heard of her or maybe you haven’t. But one thing is for certain after this season, Kandie Bloch (Sr., Argenta-Oreana) will no longer be a mystery among the track and field fandom. Bloch emerged from a 5-6 jumper as a sophomore to Class A state champion last year leaping an amazing 5-10. There are very few jumpers in the country with such superb marks that earned her US#6/IL#1 elite rankings. Bloch, a two-sport star, recently eclipsed the 2000 career point mark against Clinton. As great as that feat was, there is a feeling of wanting to improve more. Bloch now has her sights set as high as the sky will take her.
Illinois Prepster: It was very interesting to hear about your start in athletics in that you were on the basketball path to stardom. Can you tell us about your early beginnings and the transition into track and field?
Kandie Bloch: It was always about basketball. Basketball was basically all year around for me. I played during the spring and into summer. It would then [rotate back] through the school season. I would always go to exposure camps hoping to get noticed to go to college for it. In 6th grade, my aunt Karen [Bloch] inspired me to do track because she has always been my idol and I wanted to do everything she did. In 7th grade, my track coach (Heidi Trendler) made me try the high jump, but I was scared at the thought of jumping over backwards. However, I got use to it and excelled. I kept telling myself that I can always do better and jump higher.
KB: Yes, my aunt was the Men’s and Women’s water polo trainer in the Beijing and London Olympics. She is considering going to the Rio Olympics if I am participating in them- which is my goal.
IP: How instrumental has she been in your athletic career?
KB: Like I said, my aunt has always been my inspiration; she has experienced a lot of things that people could only dream of. Aunt Karen is always trying to find the best [training methods] and is always pushing me to do the best even though she lives in California.
IP: Congrats on your commitment to the University of Illinois-Champaign as your future home for track and field. Why did you pick the Illini over some other great schools?
KB: I have family that graduated from the University of Illinois and it’s close to home. When I went on my official visit I felt welcomed and comfortable with the team. I was told that going there would give me the best shot at participating in the Olympics. Also, the graduation rate for the track team is 100%.
IP: What are you planning to study in college?
KB: I want to either study something in the medical field or elementary teaching because I would love to make a difference in people’s lives.
IP: Although you come from a tiny school that hails in Class A, it has been anything but the little league for high jump in terms of top performances. It was just two seasons ago that Jena Hemann (Breese Central) led the nation at 6-0. Didn’t you take the same leap of faith last year in trying to eclipse 6-0 at state?
KB: I would have loved to hit 6-foot at state, but I was pretty happy with jumping my [school] record of 5″10, and pretty pumped on beating all classes as well. For the upcoming season, my goal is to hit 6-foot, and I’m planning on working hard to make that happen. I’ve done all this on natural talent; Mike Erb (jumps coach at U of I) said that he could only imagine what I could do with some training and coaching specific to high jumping.
IP: What other events have tried in track and field?
KB: I’ve done the 300IH and also triple jump, but I enjoy high jump better probably because I stand out in it.
IP: Are they any events that your coaches thought about you competing in but no longer have any interest in?
KB: Coach [Cindy] Fitzgerald thought about putting me in the long jump, but for some reason I wasn’t comfortable with it. It’s different than the triple jump where you hop several times before leaping into the pit. It scared me. I still don’t understand why it’s awkward for me. We have decided to shelve the [horizontal] jumps.
IP: Now that track and field is going to be your bread and better moving forward, will you partake in some of the elite meets around the country?
KB: I’m going to do anything I can to improve myself.
KB: Kandie is actually my name and a lot of people think it is short for Kandice. It’s weird because people call me Kandice as a nickname even though my birth name is Kandie.
IP: Tell us an interesting fact that few people know about you.
KB: My first love has always been for basketball, but now that my future is based around track… my goal is to attend an Olympics in the future!
IP: Every teenager has a vice that they refuse to give up. It could be junk food or an old habit. What is yours?
KB: A lot of people have a blanket that they have had since they were a baby. I on the other hand have a pillow that I got when I was three years old and I take it with me everywhere I go. My Aunt Karen and grandma got it for me with a case that’s says “I love basketball.”
IP: Do you have any advice for future athletes looking to try such a technical event as the high jump?
KB: I would tell them to start making goals to improve in what they are doing to do; keep at it because you never know where it could take you in life.