Allison Stokke had one passion and one goal in mind when she was a teenager. She wanted to pole vault her athletic skills into landing a college scholarship or a chance at the Olympics. One innocent snapshot of her during practice one day would change everything for her. Instead of becoming known by the world for her excellence in the sport, she would become the center of challenging scandals that would haunt her for the rest of her life while also leading her to her own Mr. Right. Let’s take a look at how life changed drastically from a wide-eyed athlete to unwanted online attention gone viral.
The Innocent Beginnings
Allison Rebecca Stokke was born on March 22, 1989, in Newport Beach, California. She grew up in an extremely highly competitive athletic family. She found herself in the shadow of her older brother, David Stokke, who was a national youth level gymnast. As much as she tried to slip into his athletic success, she just couldn’t shake the fact that her passion was not in gymnastics but rather in an entirely different sport where girls who pursued this sport did not typically make headlines or magazine cover notoriety for their accomplishments. The sport she loved, and seemed to be a natural at, was pole vaulting.
A Sport Of Her Own
Allison knew she had the passion for something other than following in her brother’s footsteps by going the gymnastics route. From the moment she picked up the pole, she launched herself into a sport that seemed to be made just for her. She not only was passionate about pole vaulting, but she was good at it too. With sheer determination and athletic skill, she focused on perfecting her every pole vaulting move. She was young, loved the sport of pole vaulting, and was determined to succeed during her high school athletics. But, would she have what it took to vault her to success?
One Big High School Leap
Allison Stokke had the will power and determination to make it big in pole vaulting, but did she have the skills? Still new to the sport, she had high hopes to make it part of her high school journey with hopes of a lifelong pole vaulting stent. In 2004, she competed in track and field for the first time and landed a vault of 3.86 meters. This vault soared her into breaking the American record for high school freshmen and launched the start of a new sport in pole vaulting. At the young age of 15, she had won a U.S. title by jumping slightly more than 12 feet.
Launching Of A Career
With one huge leap, she had set a record during her Freshman year in high school. Allison knew she could reach even higher goals to make a mark as a young women in the sporting world. As it would turn out, while her Freshman year vault was impressive, she was only just beginning to show the world what she could do. She began to push and challenge herself to be the best pole vaulter in the world. She began breaking her own records as she set her sights on college with promising opportunities of scholarships that would hopefully one day turn into a career in the sport.
Breaking Her Own Records
At the end of her Freshman year, she pressed on to win the CIF California State Championship. After her Freshman record-breaking year, she set the bar higher for herself and landed an even higher jump of 12-feet 8-inches followed by another record-breaking jump of 4.11 meters, in US measures that’s 13 feet 5 3/4”. This would give her the proud title of a new high school record. This time, she was a high school sophomore. Her impressive vault went down as the best vault ever recorded by an American 16-year-old. For Allison, this success gave her the drive to push herself for even higher vaults and attempts at breaking even more records.
Senior Year Injuries And Trouble
By her senior year in high school Allison Stokke had set her own course for becoming the athlete to beat in pole vaulting. She was at the top of her league with medals and record-breaking vaults. She was well on her way to seeing her dreams fulfilled. However, a couple of misfortunes came her way that would leave her needing to jump over physical and psychological hurdles she didn’t see coming. The first setback came during a practice session where she tested a larger pole and did not get enough of a vault to clear the hazardous concrete launch box.
The Injury Was Just The Beginning
She was at a practice session at Golden West College when she decided to test a pole she was not familiar with. The pole was larger than she was used to using. When she attempted to vault, she did not have enough of a launch, and ended up landing awkwardly in the concrete launch box. She suffered a broken tibia in her right ankle. She was facing surgery and had to sit out the remaining season. Her rehabilitation process ended up taking four to six months. To Allison, this was more than just an injury. It also made her re-evaluate what could have happened if things would have ended up even worse.
The Great Come Back Before The Fall
After a long rehabilitation time spent recovering from her injury, she pushed herself even further. During her senior year in high school, she gave it one final valiant effort and ended up winning yet another championship at the CIF California State Meet. This final year of high school is when she broke her own records once again and jumped an incredible height of 4.14 meters, or U.S. 13-feet 6 3/4”. She also ended up second in the national high school rankings and 8th at the national junior championships. The girl was on fire and ready to take on the world, but danger was lurking in another form.
The Picture That Changed Her Life
Allison Stokke had found her dream sport and focused diligently to focus on her goals. She continuously proved to be the best in her sport and the girl to beat at competitions. Then, something unexpected blindsided her. When she was 17 and at a competition in New York, a journalist for a California track and field website snapped a photograph of Allison. The photographer had taken many photos throughout his career, and this one seemed no different than any of the rest. The picture captured an innocent athletic female superstar in the heat of a competition waiting her turn to vault. It wasn’t the photo itself that caused the stir, but rather, whose hands it would end up in that mattered.
The photograph that was innocently snapped by a journalistic photographer of the sport ended up in the wrong hands. The picture was published on the internet and then reposted in a dark and disturbing blog known as With Leather which has a heavy all-male clientele and is flooded with posts of young females. The blog where the photograph landed belonged to sports blogger Matt Ufford who was known for posting female athletes pictures. Not only did the blog post the photo without permissions but also included a seedy caption that read, “Pole Vaulting is Sexy, Barely Legal.” Though, when the picture was taken, Allison was not yet 18.
Barely 18 And Gone Viral In A Bad Way
Allison had just turned 18 when she learned that the photo taken of her at 17 had gone viral in the worst way. She had just caught a glimpse, however, of how disastrous the image would become in regard to her personal life. The photo ending up on a blog that was then viewed by men making disturbing remarks was not something this pole vaulting champion ever saw coming. Even though the photograph was nothing more than a raw moment on the field during a competition while Allison was simply awaiting her turn at the vault, the way it went viral online turned it into something a lot more risque and troubling.
The photograph that went viral and launched this superstar athlete into the spotlight, for reasons other than her sport, was becoming very damaging to young Allison. When the photo was taken, she was not yet 18, but now she was a young adult and found it difficult to get noticed for anything other than the picture underscored with crude and demeaning remarks commenting on her womanhood rather than her athletic ability. Fans and friends were taking notice. Among them was the photographer who originally shot the photograph with no intention of sending it viral. After seeing the harm done on Allison’s perspective, the photographer approached the website that had posted it and threatened to sue them if they didn’t remove it.
Too Little Too Late
While the intention of the original photographer was good, and his efforts to sue Matt Ufford for posting it with lewd comments were valiant, the picture had already been seen by many. Despite his attempt to protect the young athlete, it was too late to stop the controversy that now engulfed her. Several other websites had also shared the picture, and it had taken the internet by storm in an unfortunate manner. Instead of being front and center for her pole vaulting accomplishments, Allison found herself now having to separate herself from the image she was being wrongly portrayed as.
As the picture made its way around the internet to be viewed by unsolicited viewers, several fan clubs started popping up with the Allison Stokke fan club name on them. None of them were fan clubs that Allison wanted anything to do with. More pictures of her were published to them, and more men gushed over them with ill intent. One website emerged that was completely dedicated to Allison featuring images of her competing in pole vaulting and attracting a less-than-desirable audience of men. The comments were never applauding her athletic skill, but only would stress her physical attractiveness in a lewd fashion.
Unwanted International Sensation
Eventually all of the blogs, fan pages, and websites that seemed to be obsessed with the young athlete sprung up and reached beyond America. One photograph vaulted her overseas to become an international sensation online for all of the wrong reasons. Her story was picked up by newspapers and magazines worldwide. Not only did papers in the United States carry her story, but also the BBC, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Der Spiegel in Germany shared her photographs to interested men. She was even featured on an international talk show. All of this unwanted attention was taking its toll on Allison who simply wanted to be the best in her sport.
Poster Child For What Can Go Wrong
What started as a simple dream of training and competing as an athlete had turned into a worldwide problem. At one point CBS even covered her story warning everyone of the danger of the internet and how it can easily be used to publicly sexualize young women. She had become the poster child for internet woes. The controversy just kept coming regardless of what anyone did to stop it. All Allison wanted to do was move forward and be the best pole vaulter in the world. Eventually, her family and she hired a media consultant to help manage and redirect the attention to focus on her accomplishments in her sport rather than what she looks like.
Her Dad Puts His Lawyer Suit On
Allison had tried to redirect the unwanted attention by herself, and could not keep up with the inundation of emails, calls, and comments. She and her newly hired media consultant arranged an interview with Allison instructing young female athletes about the sport of pole vaulting. The interview as posted to YouTube and was seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers, but instead of focusing on her talent, the comments centered around her beauty. It was clear she needed additional help and turned to her dad who was a lawyer. Her father began identifying the illegal behavior of his daughter’s online stalkers.
The Emotional Toll
While her lawyer father was able to find illegal behavior and begin to take steps to prosecute or shut down the sites, he could not rebuild the damage it had done to his daughter. All of the unsolicited comments had taken their toll on young Allison who was still trying to hold onto her dreams of becoming the best in her sport. She felt like all of her hard work didn’t even matter if people only saw her as a sex symbol. She no longer felt safe as she once did. As disturbing as it was, she was mostly troubled that all of the unwanted attention was overshadowing her true skills as a pole vaulter.
Heading To College
Keep in mind that all of this viral and unwanted attention was happening while Allison Stokke was still in high school. She had not yet even graduated from high school when faced with numerous attempts at invading her privacy and exploiting her for only her looks. She was desperately trying to finish high school and move on with her life with a new start at college. She hoped that a change would be a good way to leave all of the scandals behind her. But, would it be possible to move forward and start fresh when it seemed as though everyone around the world knew of her in ways she could not control?
In spite of all of the ill-gotten internet viral attention, Allison was still focused on her sport. She managed to get a scholarship to study at the University of California, Berkeley. She studied to eventually obtain a masters degree in sociology, but her main focus was on pressing forward in pole vaulting. She had been offered an athletic scholarship to compete in her sport of pole vaulting for the university’s track and field program. To make things even sweeter, she competed for coach Scott Slover who had been a five-time All-American at UCLA and was among the most respected coaches in the United States.
As Allison Stokke successfully moved forward in her life and in her sport beyond the photograph that brought her so much upset, she set her goals even higher. By the end of her college years, she had set many new records in her sport. She was known for jumping higher than she had before and was making it into the top 10 at every competition. She had jumped as high as 14-feet 3 1/2”. Now, she wanted to aim even higher. She dreamed of becoming an olympic athlete. Before she could make a leap for a gold medal, she would first need to qualify in Olympic Trials.
Olympic Dreams Crushed
Before Allison Stokke could reach her high goal of being an Olympic athlete in pole vaulting, she would need to qualify at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She trained hard to prove that all of her struggles were a thing of the past. She managed to qualify for the trials, but when she showed up for the trials, something unexpected happened. This high-jumping athlete was not even able to clear the opening height of 4.25 meters, U.S. 13-feet 11 1/4”. In one unfortunate vault that left her missing the mark she had cleared before, Allison was eliminated from her Olympic dreams.
Moving On As A Model
As she watched her shot at Olympic dreams crash, she knew she had to change her plans to move beyond her disappointing trials. In 2015, she was given an opportunity to try her hand at a modeling stint. The choice to hang up her pole to be placed in front of a camera brought back feelings of her high school years when the initial photograph shattered her world. But, this time she was making the choice to show off her athletic build in sportswear. She had years of success and maturity under her belt and was ready to try something new. She was ready to accept the many offers to model professional sportswear.
Representing Top Brands
In almost an ironic turn of events, she was now making money modeling in front of a camera with her pictures going commercially viral unlike the original unwanted photograph when she was just 17. This time, she was even caught in athletic poses mid-air, so her pole vaulting skill was not entirely lost. Allison landed her first modeling shoot with a major brand and was on the road to a new career. Her first modeling job was for Nike, in 2015. The following year she took a modeling position with Uniqlo. She appeared in Nike’s Spring and Summer collection. She also worked for Athleta.
Expanding Her Modeling To Action
With plenty of modeling shoots under her belt, she was approached by a sports action camera company with a unique proposition. GoPro wanted to record a series of videos featuring Allison Stokke The videos would feature her pole vaulting with a camera attached to her pole to capture all of the action like never seen before. She literally jumped at this opportunity. Not only would she get to expand her new found modeling skills, but she could also do what she has always loved by stepping back into the action of pole vaulting even if it wasn’t for the sake of competition.
GoPro Camera Angles
The idea that GoPro had in mind was a raging success. The videos showed viewers what it is like to be a pole vaulter. Allison was able to show off her unique skills that she loved through the use of the action camera equipment attached to her pole. The videos were viewed by millions on YouTube which brought both Allison and GoPro huge success. The joint venture between Stokke and GoPro was a complete and perfect fit. The combination of sports and technology captivated lifelong fans of Allison Stokke as well as those fascinated by the angles and the speeds of the action camera.
Not Ready To Throw In The Pole Completely
Even though she had been well received in the modeling world with her sportswear shoots, and the GoPro angles captivated millions, Stokke still had pole vaulting in her veins. She was not quite ready to give up the sport entirely. She continued competing whenever the opportunity would arise. She continued to enjoy the sport even though she was no longer breaking records like she did when she was younger. In 2016, she ended up finishing 8th at the Chula Vista OTC High Performance meet competition. She climbed up in the ranks a year later placing 3rd at the 2017 Austin Longhorn Invitational.
Walking Away From Competitions
Allison Stokke had broken records early in her pole vaulting career. She stayed focused and pressed on in spite of scandalous online photos that were demeaning and hurtful for a teen. But, Allison kept her sights set high. She had moved on to complete college, a graduate degree, and even tried out for the Olympics. With each new turn of events, she kept her head up and steadily moved forward to be the best. Her modeling career and GoPro videos were a huge success, but she now had her sights on a new pursuit. This new venture captured her full attention.
Committed To A New Pursuit
Once again she would take the internet by storm and images of her would go viral. The only difference was that this time the pictures merely confirmed rumors that she had a beau who was also an athlete. She continued modeling and competing, but before 2016 would come to a close, she had captured the eye of another professional athlete. Golfer Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke had begun dating each other. They shared the love of sports and the fact that both had been young prodigies. Fowler was the Number One amateur golfer in the world for 37 weeks before the age of 20.
Romance Rumors Confirmed
The rumors that circulated the internet were about to be proven to be true. The young female athlete who had broken her own records had met her match. Rickie Fowler and she had become more than just friends. The two were seen together at a Motocross Grand Prix. Rumors began picking up speed in a frenzy when they were often seen out and about at various places. The rumors were proven to be true when the two began posting pictures together on Instagram. Her fans began demanding to know more. Who was this new love interest of their favorite pole vaulter?
Who Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?
Allison had gathered quite the fan base throughout her pole vaulting and modeling careers. The one aspect of her life that many fans watched for and was missing was her love life. After months of speculation, many speculated that she and Rickie Fowler were in a relationship. This speculation was finally confirmed. The only problem was that they had not heard the news from the couple directly. Instead, a teammate of Rickie’s let the cat out of the bag. During a press conference on golfing, Jason Day jokingly talked about Fowler’s absence at the team meeting the day before. He went on to hint that Rickie had found a girlfriend.
Among all of her notorious accomplishments throughout her life, she had now added a new title. She was now Rickie’s cheerleader and chief support crew. After all, since she stopped pole vaulting she had gained a lot of free time to devote to her beau. She knows what it’s like to compete, and she knows what it’s like on the side lines rooting on her favorite golfer. Allison is now quite often spotted nearby her golfing boyfriend. She is always close by during his golf tournaments. The two especially enjoy celebrating his competitive accomplishments, like his success in the U.S. Open.
She’s A Distraction
With all of the fan love Allison and Rickie have had gushed upon them over the years from adoring supporters, there is one who is potentially unhappy about the happy relationship. Rickie’s coach was worried she would become a distraction to Rickie’s golfing. The coach even gave Rickie an ultimatum to decide whether or not he wants to be a professional golfer or become a social media sensation with Allison. Of course, as can be expected from young love, Rickie disregarded his coach’s advice. Still, he seems to be unscathed with a continual focus on both his professional sport and to Allison.
Trying Her Hand At Golf
After the news got out about her dating pro golfer Rickie Fowler, she has been seen on the golf course by his side and taking a shot or two on a green of her own. Allison Stokke picked up her own golf club, and took a swing just for the fun of it, and it turns out that she is actually pretty good at the sport. She is an athlete after all, so trying her hand at a new sport makes sense. But, her golfing male sidekick has nothing to worry about, since she has no intention of going into golfing competition with him as her rival.
Tackling Lifetime Hurdles And Winning
Allison Stokke has been through a lot on her path to pursue her athletic goals, and somehow she comes up winning even with unexpected twists and turns along the way. In spite of her early teenage roadblocks and attention diverted away from her hard work and onto her outward appearance, she has pressed on and overcome. She made it her main goal to ignore the unwanted attention from a photograph posted against her approval and focus clearly on making her athletic talent shine. Her main plan was to be the best in her sport of pole vaulting while encouraging young women who follow in her footsteps.
A Haunted Past
Even though Allison has worked hard to move forward and not let the diverted attention from her teen years form who she is, there are those who won’t let her leave it in the past. Even today, there are still interviewers who bring up questions about the photographs. Her life was changed forever from one blogger’s bad decision to make her the central focus for all the wrong reasons. But, Allison wants to leave this bad image that was projected on her in the past and move on to higher goals. She is not afraid to speak her mind about the matter, however.
Her Alter-ego Speaking Her Mind
Even though Allison Stokke has worked hard, both through physical training her body and through emotional healing, interviewers still want to know more about that teenage photo that a rogue blogger posted to draw attention in a sexual way. In one recent interview, she decided that it was time to speak up and let viewers know how the internet changed her life at a young age. She explained that it all still feels very real but that the real Allison and that photograph of Allison are two very different people. She explained that she considers that photo to be her “alter-ego.”.
Never Giving Up
While the one act of a blogger with ill intent, posting a picture of Allison when she was 17 with a caption intended for an audience of stalkers in waiting, was life changing, she refuses to let it define who she is. She has set her goal on a constant focus to never give up. In the midst of unwanted attention for all of the wrong reasons, Allison chose to continue training as hard as she could to continuously improve her athletic abilities. She chose to take a bad situation that was spiraling out of control across the internet and set her own focus on what mattered to her.
A Role Model Beyond Compare
With her unbroken focus to be the best at her sport even though attention would pull so-called fans to look at her with demeaning and selfish motives, Allison pulled herself up to be a true role model for women in her sport. Before she captured the attention around the world, only die-hard pole vaulting fans could tell you what women competed or held titles in the sport. Today, more female vaulters have been inspired by her integrity and hard work. These women who follow in Allison Stokke’s high-vaulting footsteps know that she paved a way for them to achieve their goals.
Hottest Women Pole Vaulters Change Focus
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, the original photo that could have ruined and brought down Stokke was referenced. Only, this time it was used in a bit of irony. A list of the “hottest” women in pole vaulting of the 2016 Rio Olympics was formed. Names like Eliza McCartney and Sandi Morris made it to the top of the list. At first glance, viewers thought that these new women in the sport of vaulting were being portrayed only for their physical appearance as Stokke once was. This list, however, used the mindset that women are only good for their beauty to bring to light that these women had trained hard with fearless grace and were worth so much more.
Allison Stokke has been a huge success in moving forward to keep her focus on who she wants to be in life and leaving the past scars of the photograph that changed her life behind her. There are those, however, who will not let it die. Her alma mater was even forced to take down her picture from their website. It seems that too many people were asking for a signed copy. While some fans are asking out of pure respect for her skills and tenacity, some refuse to erase the image that one ill-intended blogger tried to conjure up years ago. Allison admits that she realizes she is a celebrity, but she feels she became famous for all of the wrong reasons.
The Emotional Effect
Looking back to when she was 17 and that photo put a fork in the road of her pursuits, the emotional effect could have been devastating. It would have been very easy for a high school senior to give up or to become curious about the dark side of the internet where her picture was spreading. It was not easy for her parents and family to watch their daughter’s physique and face make its round on social media around the world. Her mother has spoken quite often about the entire experience saying that her daughter was forced to grow up really fast. To achieve her goals, young Allison would need to learn a hard life lesson and never give up because of one silly photograph.
The Inequality Of Her Situation
When the viral internet picture began popping up all over the World Wide Web, Allison had no training in how to handle it. It was unexpected and unwanted. As time went on, she started to see the inequality in the entire scenario. Allison began to realize that had she been a young man in the same situation, it would have been very different. She began to wonder and could not think of one sportsman who had to encounter the same situation. Men in sports that she saw were touted for their athletic ability, while she had been exploited for her feminine attraction with no accolades even mentioned as to how much hard work went into what she had accomplished even at a young age.
Out Of The Limelight
After reaching the highest goals set in pole vaulting and crushing records at a young age, she seemed to have reached her peak. Allison didn’t let this stop her from trying new adventures. After her stint as a model for women sportswear, she made the decision to try to stay out of the limelight. She sought a life of solitude and wanted to lead a quieter and more private life for awhile. This desire to stay out of the camera’s eye may be quite difficult for her since she has a relationship with a professional golfer who is highly photographed, usually with her by his side.
Lessons Learned And Some Misunderstood
In her young adulthood, she has had time to reflect on her early teenage years when a lot of drama surrounded her that played like a tug-o-war between her extremely athletic pole vaulting skills and one photograph that changed her life. Allison has often expressed that the photo had not only changed her life in bad ways for the worse, but also opened doors to change her life for the better. Still, she often has pondered and questioned why her picture went viral when she felt there were many other female vaulters who, in her eyes, were more skilled and more attractive than she felt she was.
It could be humility, or maybe all of the unwanted attention for the way she looked as a teen, but Allison has often questioned her worth. She has admitted that along the way she has turned down some really big offers from some well-known and popular brands that wanted her to model for them. She was offered television spots, modeling jobs, and had big-name brand ambassadors requesting her. She turned many down because she did not feel as though she was good enough to represent them. She did not feel as though she deserved the flattering and high-priced payouts they were offering her.
Double The Athlete
Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke shared a lot in common. While Fowler had not gone completely international like Stokke had, but his athletic prowess got him to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He also competed in the U.S. Open. He has ranked often in the top ten in golf. The two also share something else in common. Both of them were young sports stars with controversial photos that changed their lives. While Stokke’s photo brought on unwanted attention, Fowler embraced his photo and made the best of it. His was taken at the end of the Ryder Cup when he was the only competitor left with no one to kiss.
Inseparable Athletic Pair
While a photograph was once spread across the internet without her approval, she now embraces pictures of her and her love, Rickie Fowler. They have been spotted out and about, and she readily shares them on her Instagram page. They seem to be a match made for each other. The two share a lot in common with their athletic abilities and hard work from a young age. The two know what it is like to be in the spotlight to be congratulated and when it is for unwanted attention. Best yet, it is always good to see the smiles on their faces when they are together.
A Winning Proposal
In 2018, Rickie and Allison had been dating for enough time that the two had fallen in love and were ready to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Rickie made sure to make the commitment official. The two became engaged to be married. By this time in her life, Allison had given up pole vaulting entirely. Rickie, however, was still on top of his game. He had competed in and won his 5th PGA Tour in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The two made the marriage proposal official. Now, the two had more than sports to celebrate together.
Happily Ever After
With two athletes who have a passion for training hard and focusing on goals, these two seem to be perfect for each other. They made the choice to move on and try their hand at living happily ever after. Allison and Rickie took the life-long step of commitment. Towards the end of 2019, Rickie proposed to Allison. She said yes! The pair chose to get away for the big event and have a sandy, waterfront destination ceremony. They were married on a beach with only family and a few close friends in attendance who support them with their love and constant encouragement to pursue the best in life together.