“The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when nobody else is watching.”
-Anson Dorrance, The Vision of a Champion
It’s dark. It’s gloomy. It’s pouring rain. For most throwers, this may be a sign to call it a day, not throw, and not risk injury. However, for some throwers, this is another opportunity to look deep down inside themselves and make a concerted effort to get better. Another opportunity to reach their goals. Regardless of the conditions, these throwers dig down deep when nobody is watching in order to satisfy a need, accomplish a goal, or simply continue to chase their dream.
The cliché often used in literary verses is that a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture above sums up so much more than a thousand however. In a state of pure joy and happiness, I got this picture in a text message last night at around 7:45pm. It is not just a picture of a hammer in the sector, but is a symbol of grit, determination, work-ethic. With nobody around, alone at practice, Savannah broke through the 50m barrier. I will not downplay the obvious that this was done in practice. It is so much more than that. It means so much more, especially as a coach, that I know Savannah will put in the work. Not because she has to, but because she wants to.
I’ve been coaching since I graduated from Fredonia in 2004. One of the facets I have found somewhat difficult to wrap my head around is the ability for coaches to coach heart. How do we as coaches instill the confidence, self-determination, and want-to in our athletes that may not always want-to? It’s a question I’ll continue to ask, and hopefully someday I’ll have an appropriate response.
However, I know heart when I see it. Savannah has heart. That it factor. Sports personalities and professional wrestling scouts frequently discuss the it factor. It’s difficult to describe. The it factor is a combination of many factors, qualities, and perhaps personality traits that seem to align for specific athletes and individuals around the world. Even though it is difficult to describe, the guru’s say they know it when they see it. I’m not a coaching guru, nor a throwing coach guru for that matter. However, I think I can identify it when I see it. Savannah has it.
Work-ethic alone is not enough. That is not the only pre-requisite to having it. Effort counts. According to Angela Duckworth, effort counts twice. Anders Ericsson has spent the last 20 years researching deliberate practice. Deliberate practice counts. Being diligent in what you do counts. Merely going through the motions will not suffice. That is not good enough. A lot of individuals merely go through the motions. Day-in, day-out we see talented individuals not take advantage of the great opportunities presented to them. As a coach, mentor, and friend I cannot put into words how proud I am of Savannah and all that she has accomplished in her relatively short throwing career. The intangible gifts she possesses will take her places. Savannah has it.
Do you have it?
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.