This past weekend in Chicago the Illinois Track (and Field) and Cross Country Coaches Association had their yearly clinic and Hall of Fame inductions. The keynote speaker (for us throwers anyways) was Mac Wilkins, 1976 & 84 Olympian in the Discus, winning the 1976 games, a 7-time U.S. National Champion in the Discus, 4-Time World Record Holder in the Discus, 5-Time American Record Holder in the Discus and Oregon HS State Champion, NCAA Champion and current Throws Coach at the OTC in California.
Mac gave 3 formal presentations on the throws including topics on the Discus, Rotational Shot Put and Glide Shot Put (notes on his presentation can be found here: http://itccca.com/january-clinic/2014-clinic-speaker-list/ ) Prior to the clinic on Saturday morning, ITCCCA hosted a coaches social for those who made a long journey to Oak Park could rest and socialize and have the opportunity to meet Mac Wilkins in a more personal setting; I made the trek over following our 30th Alumni Meet at North Central College with former NCC shotput National Champion Justin Rapp and his high school coach Dan McQuaid (http://mcthrows.com/).
We arrived there just in time as Mac began sharing with the small group some stories of his journey through throwing; beginning as a high school youth and culminating to his position now at the OTC. In the first story I will share from the gathering Mac tells of how he started as a young javelin phenom and considers himself to this day a Javelin thrower and if you research his presentation slides and notes he teaches both the shot put and the discus techniques as modified javelin throws. An underlying theme in the first story is the importance of proper application of oneself to the throwing process; from the importance of understanding how the NCAA college system works to the fundamentals of proper javelin throwing. Mac also focuses on key points he learned from his college coach, Bill Bowerman including: questioning authority (this coming from a colonel in the army). And question authority when trying to accomplish something for the athlete.
The first story can be found here:
The second story involves Bowerman, an elephant and various members of the University of Oregon Track and Field Team (nuff said):
The third story I will share from video is a culminating topic discussing the risks it takes in making endeavors in your life, as a thrower and how Mac plans on attempting to change the throwing culture of the U.S. over the coming decade or two; I don’t know if the U.S. will ever have a system reminiscent of that of the Germans but there is a capacity for positive improvement.
The third story:
The fourth story I do not have on tape, however, I’m sure it will surface on the internet at some point (it’s nothing scandalous don’t get your hopes up); however I thought and felt Mac felt it the most important idea to be shared as it was the final piece of his presentation on Saturday afternoon and he made an earnest effort to make sure that everybody understood what it is that is most important about throwing: The relationships you build through the process of your life, through your career, those are what matter most.
Coming from an Olympic Champion, World Record Breaking Track and Field Superstar who was about to fly out to Las Vegas for a convention that night the most important and final message he delivered was that the friendships and relationships you form and hold over time are the most import accomplishments of track and field. From the highest of performers to the lowest of performers that is something that remain constant in any field of life: records are broken, championships come and go and eventually you will forget your PR’s but the friendships you form, the remembering of feelings, the events that transpire as you get to a track meet and when you drive back, the day in day out process of training and all that those people have to do in order to make that lifestyle work are so much more paramount than the medals and the training secrets and records.