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Where's My Competition

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It started last year.

I was a freshmen and new to the track and field team. Though back then wished I started sooner like in seventh grade or even eighth. Still I could remember walking into the nurse’s office earlier that year for my height, weight, and vision screening and how she would tell me how I had the body for a thrower. Saying that I could probably chuck a javelin a hundred feet without a problem or throw a discus a hundred and ten feet by just standing there.

Being a Track and Field thrower isn’t as easy as it sounds. Anyone can run but to be a thrower involves more with skill, patience, and a good arm. The first day I was more nervous than excited but my friend, who was the one who finally convinced me to join, told me not to worry about it and that I was going to be awesome. She’s been in track since seventh grade, she was used to it. By the end of that year I would have out thrown her in every event, including the other girls who’ve been a throwing for years. The nurse, who was also the track coach, was right about me. I was built to be a thrower.

That first few days we didn’t go outside, instead we worked-out in the weight room to build up muscle. We did drills too and exercises so that we would be more comfortable using our hips, legs, and thighs. Truthfully I wanted to go out already, throw something and learn. The weather kept us inside.

Another week passed before finally we could go throw. At our school the fields were a sloppy mess, sometimes it got so bad that Cross Country runners lost their shoes in the mud but that didn’t stop them from running. You could hear our shoes squeak and squash in the grass. They would soak with cold, freezing water and it was the most uncomfortable feeling ever. It was cold too, really cold. We were all bundled up in multiple layers, hats, and gloves. Anymore and if we fell over we wouldn’t be able to get up.

We headed a trailer that sat at the corner of school grounds. It was a rusty, old, and it took two guys to open the door. Apparently throwers had a little tradition that the boys carry all the equipment, so that’s how it went. All the boys grabbed something to carry. The fields were too muddy and wet to throw plus the discus net wasn’t even up so we went over to the empty parking lot which was all dirt and threw there.

The first thing our throwing coach taught us was the shot put and I hated it. You had to hold a cold metal ball up against your necks with your elbow up, bend your knee and have all your weight on your right leg, then throw by pushing off your right leg, push out your hips, turn yourself and then throw your arm out. I threw it like a baseball the first couple times. You were not supposed to do that.

I did not like shot put one bit. The last thing that I wanted to do was the event because I was so terrible at it though the coach told me to practice some more and it will become easier. Discus was next and I sucked there too. The disc would come off the wrong fingers and fly through the air like a pie or like a floppy UFO before plopping on the ground. I couldn’t get it to glide smoothly like a Frisbee. With little time left we learned about the javelin. It was like a spear and not a lot of schools did this event anymore because they didn’t find it safe. I ended up throwing the thing with my arm out like I was waving to someone instead of over my head. Heck, I had the end of the javelin hit me in the back of the head because I wasn’t holding it right.

I was done that day. I hated everything especially shot put.

Each day though, I got better and better. My form was good except for the fact that I kept forgetting to use my hips which caused me to throw with just the strength in my arm. I was starting to love the shot put because that was the one that I would work the most on and my form was almost perfect. My only problem was that I was throwing with all arm and not using my hips or legs. But that thing would glide through the air and land twenty-five feet away. I thought that was amazing. I was so excited about it because I was throwing it farther than the other girls. Then did I remember that I was throwing a Junior Varsity shot put which is six pounds and they were throwing a Varsity shot that was eight and a half pounds.

Our first meet happened three weeks into track season and we were all given uniforms. I didn’t like them at first but have soon grown use to them. We were allowed to wear compression shorts and shirt underneath. I was the only person to get black out of the whole throwing team and all the girls in track and field because I hated the color white. I felt like a little rebel.

Out first meet was at our school against a pretty decent team whose uniform colors were red and white. We had the home advantage. Nerves were all over me, I wanted to get first in shot put and discus but I didn’t know how good the other team was.

Shot put was the first event we did and I was last to throw for our team so that I could see how the others threw. I was surprise by how far they landed. Some of them couldn’t even get to twenty feet, others tossed them like baseballs, and their form was nothing but sloppy just like the fields weeks before. I was whispering all the things they did wrong to my team mates and we had conversations about the throwing as the event went on. I had also noticed another thing, they were staying in power position while I was the only one to do the glide.

The different between them was that the glide was when you slide back on your right foot, placed you left close to the toe-board then turn and chuck the thing. You get more momentum out of it which helps with distance. While power position was without the sliding back on one foot. You stood there, turned, and threw.

I won with twenty- five feet and nine inches.

Discus was next. The other girls didn’t fling well in this category either. The farthest one had went around four-three feet that meet. Again everyone threw in power position, which meant they stood there with their knees bent, spun their arm around, and chucked the thing. I was the only one in JV Girls to do something else which was a three-step spin using the whole throwing circle. I stood in the back of the circle with knees bent and I held the discus swinging my arm back and forth to get a momentum going. Then I took one step after another on an imagery line that ran down the middle of the circle. Once I hit that third step I tossed it.

It wobbled through the air but landed the farthest out. I grin excited. My next two throws turned out much better than my first. I ended up winning it with fifty three feet and nine inches.

We had six meets against different schools throughout the month of April. I had improved with each and every practice. I won my events each meet which made me feel amazing. I was in love with shot put. I remember my fourth meet I hit twenty-nine feet and eleven inches. Our school record was thirty feet and eight inches and it hasn’t been broken in over fifteen years. I wanted to break it the next meet.

My throwing coach told me that breaking a record wasn’t easy especially in shot put. Most the time it was broken by just a couple inches, maybe an inch, or sometimes by just half an inch. It was a close event. We had measured my throws throughout the week and the most I could get was around thirty but nowhere near the thirty feet, eight inches record.

We had an away meet and not only was I in shot put and discus but I had volunteered to do long jump also. It was closed pit which meant that I couldn’t go over whenever. They would call out when the event was for which division and I had to be over there.

They called out for JV Girls’ long jump while I was in the middle of throwing shot put.

Twenty-nine feet and eleven inches.

I told the official that I had to go over soon and so he had me do my last two throws. My heart was racing because I didn’t want to miss long jump and disappoint my coach but I also wanted to beat that record today. Bending down on my leg, I held that cold shot put against my neck. I cleared my mind and thought of only the form. Slide back, push with your legs, turn your hips and chuck the shot put.

I threw.

“Thirty feet, eight inches!” The official called out and my eyes widened. I was neck and neck with the shot put record but I didn’t want to be there. I wanted it to be higher so that only my name could be on the list for shot put. I knew I sounded ridiculous because it was only a record but who wouldn’t be excited to break a record.

I went to throw again, as I bent down they had called for the JV Girls’ long jump a second time. My heart tried pushing out of my chest but I forced myself to calm down and throw the thing. I used my legs, forgot about my hips, and used all arm. From where it landed I didn’t think I beat it.

“Thirty-three feet, eight inches!”

I was beyond shocked.

I broke the record by three feet.

Three feet!! That was highly unheard off. That was like breaking a the long jump record by ten feet or breaking the one hundred meter run by two seconds. Just unheard of but possible. My coach was amazed and everyone on my team congratulated me before I had to run over for long jump. I won shot put and discus that day, plus third in long jump. Our last meet was a sloppy one, it was misty and cold compared to the week before. I had planned on breaking my own record but because of the cold I didn’t have the energy to reach it. Though I still got first in it along with disc.

May third.
It was JV District Championships. Only half of the team made it to districts, me being one of them. Our coach had gotten a list of the people we would be competing against and what their best time/distance was for the season. She had told me earlier that I was second in shot put and that the girl in front of me had a distance a couple inches better than mine. Our school was in double A and the girl was in triple A. I had been working so hard in shot put so that I could beat her.
The JV track team left the school at one and I had asked my coach for the list so to see who I was going against in all the events. I was in shot, disc, javelin, and long jump. I had a distance of fifty-four feet for javelin and only have been practicing for a week. JV only threw javelin at districts. She had stalled about giving me the list.
A couple minutes later I had asked again and finally she had given it to me with a grin. Quickly I turned the pages to shot put, she had highlighted our names so that we could find ourselves easier. My name was highlighted, no one else was above me. I was confused, I thought that someone was above me?
There was, but apparently that school were caught down-grading ninth graders from the Varsity to throw or run in the Junior Varsity Championships. Those who were down-graded were disqualified from the JV and Varsity Championships. Which was how I become to be the best one out of all the girls. I was pretty dang proud about that.
What had sucked was that they scheduled shot put towards the end. Javelin was first than discus was second and I was also in long jump. I was going to be beat by the time shot put came around.
So much was happening that it was hard to think. Javelin was first and I didn’t know the steps or anything. So I just stood there and threw the thing. The farthest I got was sixty-two feet. Compared to all the other girls I didn’t think I had a good enough scored to get a medal. I had a little down time before hell broke loose for me.
Long jump and Discus were happening at the same time.
WHY!?
They had only one gate open into the track on the left side, the discus was happening outside the track on the right side and long jump was at the one end inside of the track. I could not remember how many times I ran back and forth between each event to make sure that they hadn’t crossed me off for not being there.
I had to beg the one official at the long jump to wait for me because I was doing discus. She had looked at me in annoyance before finally saying alright and stuck me towards the end so that I wouldn’t miss it. To be honest I could care less about long jump. I didn’t like it at all but my track coach wanted as many spots filled in as possible, so we could get as many points as possible. I much as I hated jumping and getting sand in my shoes, I did it.
Once more I ran back to the discus field. I was tired and just wanted to get this over with. Grabbing a disc from the bag, I got ready to do my practice throws. I had sucked that day and was only able to get sixty-six feet on my first throw and broke on the next two by stepping outside the circle. I didn’t care about discus that day.
Once I had finished with long jump my track couch was looking for me. Apparently I had won something and was being looked for at the award’s tent. So I ran to the middle of the track to the tent. A man who was probably in his late seventies asked me who I was. I won third place in Javelin. I got a medal and was grinning like an idiot.
While waiting for girls’ shot put to start my name was called out again over the loud speaker. I had won third in discus also. Again I appeared at the tent to get my medal and man was I proud of this one also. I headed back to shot.
Shot put. The one event I have been waiting for all day. I was full of nerves and excitement because I knew that I was going to win this one. I knew that I was going to stand on that first place pedestal and have my medal placed over my neck along with my other two third place medals. I was ready.
I throw my practice throws lazily so to make the other girls think that they had a chance. I did this at all my meets. It was a mean thing to do but I loved seeing their shock and surprised faces at the end when they see my throws land the farthest out.

The list was ordered from shortest to longest distances so I was the last to throw which meant I got to see how everyone else threw like I have with every meet. I had made sure no one hit past the thirty-three, eight inches mark. No one had until one girl threw. She was lean, probably five-foot-five, African-American, from the triple A division, and didn’t look like she would have the strength to throw the thing thirty feet. I was dead wrong.

She hit thirty-four feet, four inches. Yes, I was mad about that.

Finally I went out and hit my record mark. I was annoyed about that and needed to beat her. I actually found myself competition in shot put.

She had thrown again, she couldn’t reach thirty feet.

I threw. Thirty-three feet, five inches.

We were on our last round of throws and I was mad, disappointed, furious, and hopeless. My coach had told me to calm down and to remember to use my legs and hips. If I used them then I would be able to beat the girl. Trying to calm myself once more, I watch her throw again.

She did her worse.

I wasn’t like most throwers who threw their best on their first try and then their distance was shorter and shorter the next two times. That girl was like that, she could not get past thirty feet the next two throws. A lot of colleges look for that one who throws the farthest but how can they improve if they can’t keep the same distance? I was able to keep the same distance and most the time I improved with each throw. Just like at the away meet when I broke the school record. I had improved with each throw showing that I had potential as a future thrower. If throwing was based off of averages I would have been one of the best ones out there, but they didn’t do that.

Standing one last time in that circle I bet down setting all of my weight on one leg. I lifted my head and stared at the darken blue sky as the sun was setting. Everyone was quiet and I calmed myself. Tapping my left foot against the concrete three times to balance myself, I shuffled back. My right leg stretched out, my hip turned, and I threw the shot put so hard that I thought I had pulled a muscle. I heard the noise of it plopping in the gravel and looked up. They measured.

“Thirty-three feet, eight and a half inches!” The official called out.

I cried that day disappointed in myself.

Even though I had gotten first in double A, I didn’t win first out of the whole championships. My throwing coach had pulled me aside a talk to me. He told me that I did great and I should be proud of myself. Plus that I had broken my record by half an inch, he had reminded me. I sucked it up. It wasn’t just about doing the best out of everyone. It was about doing the best you could. I did the best I could, I was pretty dang proud about that.

In two months I was turned from a nothing to being one of the best JV throwers my school has ever had. That was crazy. In one season I had broken my school record while others would practice for years to do something like that. That title won’t stay with me long though. Next year I would be in Varsity, throwing their shot put, and complete against others who have had more experience than me.

Now I had competition.




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