It is said every four years that the most difficult team to make is the Olympic Men's and Women's United States track & field teams. With only three Olympic spots available per event, more often than not there are more than three athletes that can realistically secure those spots. Specifically, the men's Shot-Put seems to have four or five throwers competing every Olympic year that have a chance to finish in the top 3, as well as be considered a favorite to bring home an Olympic medal. In that particular case, of course throwing far matters most on that specific day, the Olympic Trials.
Closer to home, and arguably the most important meet of the season for local high school athletes, the Section V Indoor track & field state qualifier meet was held this past Friday, February 23rd. The top 12-14 athletes in each field event compete for two automatic spots to represent Section V at the Indoor New York State championship meet. The third place finisher also qualifies as long as they have met the minimum standard. In total, four Forza Athletics throwers competed in the men's shot-put and weight throw, as well as the women's shot-put and weight throw.
I'm proud to say that three of the four Forza Athletics high school throwers secured spots to compete in the New York State Indoor track & field championships on March 3rd in New York City. Setting a new Section V record in the women's weight throw, Webster Thomas sophomore Monique Hardy finished first with a throw of 56'1". Lindsay Johnson, a senior at Rush-Henrietta, finished third with a personal best throw of 44'7". They will both competing in the women's weight throw. Both Monique and Lindsay will also be competing in the women's shot-put. Lindsay finished 2nd, while Monique finished 3rd. Earlier in the season Monique threw the minimum qualifier of 37'7".
Joining his Forza teammates in New York City next weekend, senior thrower from Spencerport High School Drew Palermo will be competing in the men's weight throw and shot-put competitions. Drew finished first in the men's weight throw will a final round throw of 68', while finishing second in the shot-put.
I cannot begin to express how proud I am to say that I have had the wonderful opportunity to coach these athletes this indoor season. We make most of the time we have together each week, maximizing our reps and really dialing in our focus on the smaller puzzle pieces that will assist them in reaching their throwing goals. Our coaching sessions go far beyond just throwing for the sake of throwing. Luis and I spend a great deal of time reviewing throwing videos, implementing plans for our throwers, and most importantly discussing our plans with our throwers. We value the input our throwers give us, especially when it comes to their needs, how they are feeling, and what they think they need to focus on in order to throw farther. Best wishes go out to our throwers and all the throwers competing at the New York State Indoor track & field championships this weekend.
Re-Writing the New York State Female Sophomore Class Weight Throw Record-We'll Leave it in Pencil For Now
Breaking a sports record of any kind, for most, might be the culmination of a wonderful and memorable experience. Chasing the record. The pursuit of excellence. And then, something happens. The record is broken. The chase, the thrill, and the exhilaration are met with a multitude of emotions-exuberance, excitement, and a sense of fulfillment. But then what? If the sole focus of the competition is to break the record, we may feel overcome with joy for a moment, but then what?
A fine balance exists between chasing records and chasing accomplishments. One can accomplish something without breaking a record, but yet the accomplishment and/or goal was accomplished. You can break a record, but not meet your goal. Emotionally, how does one prepare for such a situation?
With the Olympics in full swing, journalists and reporters have been interviewing new and repeat Olympic gold medalist in a multitude of events. A common theme that has emerged, from my perspective, is the satisfaction of winning a gold medal. One reporter interviewed someone about missing out on a chance to break the record, in which the athlete responded with, "The gold medal will be mine forever. Someone will always be able to break the record later." Much can be said with track and field athletes. Most would prefer to win an Olympic gold medal because nobody will ever be able to take that away from them. Breaking a record, well, someone can always do that later.
Webster Thomas Sophomore Monique Hardy with a new Section V and New York State Sophomore class record with a throw 55'3". Video credit to Webster Thomas High School.
As you can see from the video posted above, Webster Thomas High School Sophomore Monique Hardy has once again bettered the Section V and New York State Sophomore Class record in the 20# Weight Throw. I think for most athletes, breaking both records would suffice as having a successful season. Monique, however, is not like most athletes.
The drive, determination, and focus this young lady has is pushing her to heights not reached in New York for over a decade. She is quietly erasing records set many years ago, while keeping her sights set on much more profound opportunities-qualifying for the New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships and traveling to the famous Armory in New York City, to compete in the New Balance High School Track and Field National Championships in March.
The record is nice, however it is merely a by product of chasing a much greater and stoic outcome. For now, we'll leave the record written in pencil, just in case Monique has plans for bettering it while continuing with this monumental season.
The plan was set. The wheels put in motion. We were primed for a fantastic performance. Warm up went well. We were loose. We were ready. We stepped in the circle. Unlike past performances, it just wasn’t there.
When performances do not go as planned, how do we as coaches handle that situation with our athletes? Do you give your athletes time to think about it? Do you engage your athlete(s) immediately after the poor performance?
What are your thoughts?
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.