Everyone has a story. For some of us, our stories are similar. For others, perhaps not so much. This past season provided me the great opportunity to reflect back on my story and how I got to coach the DIII 2016 National Champion in the 35lb. Weight Throw.
I never expected my path and journey was going to take me to a throwing circle. Unlike others who may have started throwing at a very young age, I started throwing in 7th grade. I tried out for our modified Track & Field team in middle school because I wasn't good at anything else. I did not try out for our modified Football team. Honestly, I was afraid to. I tried out for our school's modified Basketball team. Out of the hundred or so people that tried out, I did not make the first cut. Only about twenty five or so guys were cut. I remember feeling sorry for myself. I was willing to try out for any sport in the spring season. I had never played Lacrosse or Tennis, so those sports were out of the question. The only sport offered in the spring season that did not cut athletes was Track & Field. Perfect!
That first season was horrible. I do not really remember much from that first season. I could not throw the shot-put 30'. I do not think I threw the discus over 100'. My success for that season was that I did not get cut. I made some new friends, but did not have any expectations for my future Track & Field career.
Something changed, however, in 8th grade. I did not grow much taller from 7th to 8th grade. I've been about 6'1" since I was 13 years old. I tried out for the modified Football team and was voted 'B' team Defensive MVP. I was the starter on the modified Basketball team. I achieved the most success during that spring Track & Field season. I was fortunate enough to have a great throwing coach. Mr. Buddington was our 7th/8th grade Social Studies teacher and throwing coach. Something in my throwing clicked that season, and I went on to break out modified Track & Field shot-put and discus records. I believe my discus record still stands, even after 20 years. However, I would not reach the success I had in 8th grade until my senior year in high school.
Let's fast forward to my senior year of high school. Nothing really special happened between 8th grade and 11th grade. I was a contributing member of our freshmen and junior varsity Basketball teams. I was an alright thrower between 9th and 11th grade. I was able to earn my varsity letter in 9th grade, but besides that, nothing else happened.
As I transitioned to my senior year of high school, I had this burning desire inside me to be the best thrower in Western, New York. Things did not get started very well. I was cut from the the varsity Basketball team. I broke my right pinky finger on the fourth day of tryouts. That was not the reason I got cut. I got cut because I was not a good Basketball player. Simple as that. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
It was at this time that I joined the indoor Track & Field team. Even though I had a broken finger and could not throw the shot-put, I was able to participate in all the conditioning workouts. Those eight weeks set the foundation for a successful outdoor season. I did not throw the shot-put very far that indoor season. My best throw if the season was just over 45'. I qualified for our Section V Meet of Champions, where only the top 6 throwers in the region compete. I also competed in the 55m dash and was a member of our 4x200m relay team at that indoor Meet of Champions competition.
In the transition between the indoor and outdoor Track & Field seasons, the local newspaper had a nice write-up on athletes to look out for in the upcoming outdoor season. I was not included in that write-up. In my mind I thought I was one of the best Track & Field athletes in the region. Not just as a thrower, but as a combined sprinter/thrower. I was fuming. I could not understand how I was left off that list. Pretty much ever other thrower in the region was listed, except for me. That set the tone for the start of the outdoor season.
I'll continue with my story in another blog post next week. Until then, what is your throwing story? How did you get involved with Track & Field and throwing? I'm interested and I want to hear from you. #throwyourstory
Thank you for reading~Charles
Charles Infurna, Ed.D. is the owner of Forza Athletics, a throwing club that supports and mentors high school, collegiate, & post-collegiate throwers. Dr. Infurna currently coaches DIII National Champion Luis Rivera and Savannah Cook.