This is long but good, you should read everything.
A few days have passed since one of the best weekends of my life every year; Starting at 3:00 On Friday, December 15th and ending Monday night, the 18th, I slept for about 6 total hours as I lay host to 150 of America’s best and most dedicated athletes from world class to novice level.
While in years past the clinic had been Big, this is the year that certain things became traditions and new things created their own folds on the weekend; from the annual snow storm that hits us every Friday before the clinic to the midnight slam session with all the elites in the turf building to the family dinner on Sunday Night to the goodbyes Monday morning something Magical took place this weekend.
New things popped up as well from the Wammer Competition which featured World Records From Joe Ellis at 30.81m for the 35lb ball, Mel Herl at 28.33m with the 20lbs ball as well as masters and high school records From Tim Miller at 20.95 with 35lbs ball(maybe last master record Jud Logan won’t own??) Tyler Arbuagh at 26.62 with 25lbs ball and Emma Kowalksi at 17.52m with 20lbs ball to round out high school records.
John smith told me that day that Gwen had gone 34.13 with the 25lbs ball at home!!!!
I thought the Wammer Experiment turned out amazing, competing and training with competition weights on Wammer Length allows us to now know a direct conversion to half wire. I also think a whole new generation of throwers has been exposed to great new training tool that will allow them to work on posture, power and rethinking the throw. Our Hammer throwers also now have a great tool to transition to and from indoor to outdoor season AND a whole new stage for them to compete on and get some much earned and deserved attention in one of the hardest training periods of the year!
Our weight lifting seminar also had great success, between Justin, Dane and Donnelly we had 3 very different paradigms of training presented to high school and college personal alike which allowed an immediate comparison and contrast of the methods and while I think each one got 1-2 things to take home with them (not counting the 3 months training programs each gave to the attendees) as well as the opportunity to really look at training from a broader vision.
Both of these segments really set the stage and foundation for the traditional midnight slam session in The Kelly (named after former GVSU coach and current Notre Dame Head Coach, Brian Kelly); all the elites get in the night before and come feel out the ring and the energy quickly rises and year-in-year-out they come up and tell me about the various life time bests they just set, the year Grandma Dinc (our Indoor Discus National Champion and top 5 all-time in US History at 56.49m) told me she went 60+ with the .75.
Is it necessarily ideal to throw at midnight before your competition? Maybe, maybe not but while everybody is there to compete and throw far the main reason for this event is to help prepare these throwers for the future and to give them something to work towards 6 months in and out of USAs and during the coldest, hardest part of the season. Coming to this event reminds the athletes of the riggers of travel, the uncomfortable of when things don’t go according to plan, when you’re not throwing on your ring or the temperature might not be what you’re used to…there’s no wind and you’re not in great shape! These are all things believe it or not that happen as you compete at the Championship and International level and is easy to forget about when you’re comfortable at home!
So I hope at the very least they are able to pull this experience out of their pocket in the future and use it to help them in whatever situation they might find themselves in, I also hope they had fun! Which I think most if not all did and also that new relationships were built, which is, I think, the second most powerful component of this clinic. The time we spend together from the clinic, to the family dinners to heading out and exploring the beaches and downtown I know that everybody here left with new friends and new stories that brought our throwing community together!!! Not only within our elite culture but college and high school athletes got sit and stand shoulder to shoulder eating tacos, taking training throws, competing and just shooting the wind.
No other ‘thing’ in this country allows an opportunity for groups to come together like this, imagine doing a football camp and your 8 year old son lined up against Joe Thomas or your daughter posted up with Candace Parker…couldn’t happen! There’d be lawsuits! But in throwing special things like this can happen and I got to see novice athletes spend countless moments with their heroes and really all of these people are mine, from the elites who made all the sacrifice to get here, to the parents who drove their children through the blizzard and across the country for a few hours of throwing for their kids…like i told them…it all inspires me!
So all of that Was just Saturday night, here comes what happened Sunday:
8:00AM Dane Miller gives 50 high school athletes an hour long presentation on whether they should spin or glide and while many clinics talk about height and strength (and Dane did) he also touched on the mental component of each technique and the process of making a decision and going through with it! Looking around the classroom all the kids eyes were on Dane and their hands were scribbling down notes on paper.
I was honestly worried about having Dane, Rodhe, Donnelly speak at the clinic, with their strong online presence I thought, what information can they give out that they don’t share already and while the answer is: TONS the real prospect of having them here was the person to person contact, the direct communication with the attendees. On the internet all we get to do is broadcast and receive broadcasts, that’s not really communication or interaction; this weekend relationships were built and while knowledge was shared it was that process of sharing, the eye contact, the reactions the communication and interaction that took place that is going to make the biggest impact on their throws. I can sit around all day and watch Mike Ditka interviews about the 4-2 but if he and I are in the same room and he talks to me for 45 seconds about how to make toast I am going to remember that for the rest of my life and it’s going to inspire me.
9:00AM Throwing session: as usual Discus gets about 20-30 throwers, two rings set up throwing into a net, Shot put has 20-30 throwers, Weight/Hammer/Wammer gets about 10-15. It’s kind of early and the heat of the classroom leaves The Kelly Feeling a little chilly but the kids start to wake up and apply what they just experienced in the classroom right into the ring. Getting Coached By Olympians, Olympic Training Center Athletes and USA World Team Coaches athletes are receiving some of the very best instruction you can find, anywhere and while there are tons of other great resources in America they tend to be out on the coasts. Here this weekend, centrally located in the Midwest our throwing communities are able to finally experience top level throwing close to home.
10:00AM Justin Rodhe speaks on something often over looked in training, making sure you have the right tools, from taping your wrist and hand to wearing the glove for heavy ball training I think that Rodhe’s presentation really made the athletes stop and think about things that they often overlooked, I am fairly confident all of their parents will be buying more athletic tape in the coming season because of this presentation. Speaking anecdotally or parablely Rodhe told his story of never taping or wearing a wrist wrap as he transformed from an 11-18m shot putter in college and then as he went post collegiate he suffered a hand injury and through rehab and using the proper equipment he went from 18m to 21m+. If you want to be the best, you have to do what the best do, and that’s taking care of your body, which means taking care of your life and that’s something I don’t think many of those kids had heard in that context before.
11:00AM Throwing session: Different! Donnelly had about 30 people at his hammer/weight/wammer session, we had some experienced hammer throwers there and we had some newbies to the event, Sean Coached them at the highest level with everything from weights and hammer to wammers and tires these kids, and at all event stations go to throw more today than maybe that had in the last month combined and that’s what I think this clinic should be about, you can go to other places and drill for days, that’s easy for the coaches and while a kid might ‘get more reps’ doing drills I think they get a better experience taking all these throws. They get to feel things, they get to be in a circle, they get to watch other throwers and are impacted by that as well and while the line moved fast I truly believe that The Line is what sets throwing apart from other sports. Having to stand in line next to your competitors and training partners you have to talk, you have to interact and that’s how you build friendships, relationships, rivalries.
12:00PM My Dad, a vegetarian cooked 50lbs of ground beef and 10lbs of chicken to make 300 tacos for our throwers. They hammered this stuff as they got to watch our Heavy/Light shot competition. Highlighted by Josh Freeman going 18.19m with 8K shot and 21.27m with the 6K (39.45m total) along with Rachel Fatherly going 14.37m with 12lb ball and 19.27m with 3K (33.59m total). Even though I announced it many times over the microphone I think a lot of them thought it was just a 7K/4K comp and with everybody going heavy for first 3 throws, they all got pretty pumped as we went through rounds 4, 5 and 6.
The point of the competition is to show that training heavy and light is important for all events and its also a great opportunity to highlight our great American shot putters. we like to keep this field small 8-10 so we can run it during the 1 hour lunch break but I’d like to see it grow some in the future, if you’re interested in competing next year just contact me!
1:00PM Sean Donnelly gave perhaps one of the most unique presentations in clinic history, having interviewed athletes like Ryan Crouser and Erin Farmer at the Olympic Training Center where he resides he was able to share great information on what it takes to be great, and as I we’ve alluded to in the past, it’s not a straight line to the top, there are ups and downs and explosions and all types of unbelievable things that occur during your life that you can’t prepare for, but as long as your prepare to respond well you can put yourself in a place to be successful. I think that hit home with a lot of kids and while there is this established relationship of ‘I’m a kid in the crowd’ and this is ‘this great speaker’ I think in that moment all the kids could see Donnelly as one of them and themselves as Donnelly. That kind of barrier breaking is not something that happens often or easily but I think it is going to have a huge impact on these throwers.
2:00PM: During Sean’s talk we set the stage for the Discus Competition at 3:00PM. The attendees walk out and the bleachers are up, the cage and ring are down, the lights are turned all the way up (more on this later) and there is music player louder over the speakers. Another 10-15 attendees show up for the afternoon session of throwing and honestly to my surprise the 40 high school discus throwers who have signed up for the competition that’s about to happen all go to discus to throw for the next hour, shot put and weight/wammer/hammer all have 15-25 people which is solid but everybody is trying to cram before the big competition.
All the elite athletes start showing up and running around, families of competitors start stacking the balcony that overlooks the ring and at 2:45 I announce the ring is open for warm ups and slow the discs start smacking the field at 30 yards..40 yards..50 yards…the other 40 and eventually the other 30 yards line and beyond. The kids all start circling the cage and sitting in bleachers, holding their shirts and posters for the competition and our elite field of men start letting the discs go…
3:00PM: Olympian Andrew Evans, College Record Holder Sam Mattis, Olympian Alex Rose, NACAC Champion Brian Williams, Tommy Cwiok, Jason Harrell of Arete Throws Nation, NCAA Champion Ryan Nejgovan, NCAA Champion Josh Sytrotchen, Noah Kennedy White, Gian Piero Ragonesi (all the way from Italy by way of Miami!), Eric Masington, Connor Bandel, Mike Prestigiacomo, Cullen Prena, Justin Scavarda all step into the circle and compete for the Indoor Discus National Title.
3:05PM The Laser Doesn’t work.
We had to blast the lights int he facility because USATF brought their VULCAM people into video and analyze the elite discus competitions, because of this the laser got drowned out (this happens outdoors as well) and we had to pull tape, so I got a workout in with the help of Lucas Warning, Tia Brooks and Bobbie Goodwin we ran a fast competition.
Round 1: Andrew Evans Leads with a 57.08m Non Reverse.
Round 2: Sam Mattis Makes a move to 58.19m
Round 3: Alex Rose Breaks Jason Young‘s Facility record and sets Meet and Samoan National Record with 61.24m
Round 4 Brian Williams comes into striking distance with a 60.42m bomb (our first time with 2 men over 60m in same competition)
Round 5 Sam Mattis Moves into 3rd with a 59.53 Strike!
Round 6 Alex Rose cements victory with 4th throw over 60m
The Stage is set for the women, who stepped up in an huge way this year!
Throwers are always asking for support, and rightfully so, we are the track and field of track and field. But as I went through and contacted pros across the country I think I found a new understanding and appreciation for how hard it is to be a women’s discus thrower professionally. They are the track and field of throwing. Very few women go on to throw discus after college and there are very few money making meets. And a year ago I wrote out that the first step has to be taken by them, they have to step up and show support themselves for themselves, for their sport and for their peers.
4 Great Leaders of American Women’s Discus stepped up to the plate in Rachel (Grandma Dinc) Dincoff, Alex Morgan, Mel Herl and Chioma Onyekwere. These women all traveled across the country to compete for the National Title, to represent women in sport, to throw for their families. I love what you did. Thank you!
Round 1: Everybody is excited as hell from the Men’s Competition. Mel Herl takes an early lead.
Round 2: The Women settle in an Alex Morgan Takes the lead with a 49.15m
Round 3: Rachel Dincoff Steps into the circle and blasts just the second throw over 50m in meet history.
Round 4: Chioma Onyekwere puts herself into the mix with a second ranking 49.40m
Round 5: Mel Herl Jumps into the Lead with 50.27m Bomb.
Round 6: Grandma Dinc puts a nail in the Coffin at 56.49 following a Chioma Onyekwere 52.75 toss seconds before hand.
I believe this is a step in the right direction. A year ago I told the men if they got their stuff together USATF would take notice, and they did and funded their elite men this year. Women, I believe you did the same this year, I will be surprised if next year we can’t get you funded, if not a prize money for winner. Thank you Alex! Thank you Rachel! Thank you Mel! Thank you CiCi!
The High School and College Divisions were great as well.
Johnny Piatek Repeated as Collegiate Champion with 48m strike on the men While Mary Hecksel won the women’s division with a 46m toss (that is what won the elite women’s division in year 1). For the high school level Future Penn State Star Payden Montana re-matched with 2016 Champion Jalah Morris and came out on top with a 44.30 Bomb, I’m sure these two will be rivals for years to come! While Nick Webb won the high school boys division against some great competition which included Ohio State and University of Michigan Commits!
8:00PM Everything is cleaned up and we head out for family dinner. The next couple hours are a montage of warm fuzzy feelings with great people, crazy stories and crack fries.
Special Thanks to Roger Einbecker, Jim Aikens and Bill Richards for coming out and helping me with a few things throughout the weekend, I really appreciated everything you guys did.
The Next morning we all got breakfast at Grand Coney before heading back to our homes. I think this was a special weekend, you can see that but I think it’s impact is going to be felt 4-5-6 years down the line when these kids are in college or later when they become coaches or when they do whatever they do in life after throwing is done. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to put this event on and spend time with my heroes.
Put us in your calendar for next December as we go for round 4.
Search Instagram @gvthrows @garagestrength @rodhesport @sdthrows for clinic videos
Other Thank Yous:
Tom Pukstys Boyi Dai, Chris Garza, Bri DeSappio, Jessica Rockwell, Franesha Robinson, Justin Scavarda, Mike Prestigiacomo, Tommy Cwiok, Mary Hecksel, Keegan Richards, Amanda Gricius
|Wammer||Attempt 1||Attempt 2||Attempt 3||Attempt 4||Attempt 5||Attempt 6||Place|
|Elite women||Naomi Yamane||F||20.78||19.98||20.11||20.36||F||4|
|Elite Men||Tim Miller||20.24||20.17||20.52||F||20.95||20.72||9|
|Grant Cart Wright||28.25||28.92||25.97||27.71||29.44||29.67||2|
|HS Girls||Emma Sabin||11.01||12.04||F||F||F||13.37||3|
|HS Boys||Tyler Arbaugh||24.26||22.31||24.45||24.07||26.62||23.8||1|
|Discus||Attempt 1||Attempt 2||Attempt 3||Attempt 4||Attempt 5||Attempt 6||Attempt 7||Place|
|Elite women||Alex Morgan||F||49.15*||F||F||48.35||48.97||49.14||4||* Miss Mark on Round 2 Gave Bonus Throw|
|College Women||Mary Hecksel||F||40.33||46.65||45.02||F||45.8||1|
|HS Girls||Jalah Morris||37.25||36.68||39.88||38.32||f||f||4|
|Elite Men||Andrew Evans||57.08||f||f||57.92||f||f||59.77||3||* Laser Error round 1, gave 7th attempt|
|Sam Mattis||51.81||58.19||56.3||56.72||59.53||56.26||59.53||4||* Laser Error round 1, gave 7th attempt|
|Alex Rose||50.12||57.38||61.24||60.42||f||60.63||60.57||1||* Laser Error round 1, gave 7th attempt|
|Brian Williams||f||59.45||f||60.35||56.45||f||60.03||2||* Laser Error round 1, gave 7th attempt|
|Tommy Cwiok||f||43.4||f||f||47.96||f||46.95||13||* Laser Error round 1, gave 7th attempt|
|Noah Kennedy White||51.78||54.35||f||53.74||51.7||53.57||9|
|Gian Piero Ragonesi||52.11||54.02||f||f||f||55.3||7|
|College Men||Zach Williams||f||f||f||31.84||f||33.32||6|
|HS Boys||Chris Tunney||f||27.76||25.69||f||27.81||f||14|
|Shot Put||Josh Freeman||17.72||17.82||18.19||20.7||20.58||21.27||39.45||1|