I think had I ever done it, I might have been a decent shot putter. I say that because running and jumping were never in my repertoire, so if I had to choose, it would have been easy. I’d have been a thrower.
I used to lift weights regularly and discovered that I had a strong upper back… and shoulders. Working out in the fitness center at Dillon Gymnasium on Princeton’s campus, I used to find myself sharing the downstairs Hammer Strength equipment with several Tiger athletes. What made them struggle on the seated row machine and the military press came easy to me.
Already in my 30s, it made me wish I’d been a thrower in my youth. I was at Barton Hall one year, the afternoon before Indoor Heps. No one was in the cage and a shot put was just laying there. So I gathered it up and without any rotation, wearing a dress shirt and boots, flung it with most of my might. And it wasn’t too bad. One of the Heps’ coaches, and I can’t recall whom, witnessed it and was impressed. Even wondered if I’d thrown in college.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really find track and field back then. It found me. I took a job at Penn 20 years ago and became embedded in the Penn Relays. And I have loved track and field ever since. I love that whatever your starting point, you get out of it what you put into it.
I wish more kids found their way to the nearest track coach. That’s why I love what has happened at the Armory in Washington Heights, where next month’s Indoor Heps will take place. That building, the vision of Dr. Norbert Sander, has propelled thousands and thousands of kids to find the nearest track coach. Thanks to the Armory, track and field participation has grown exponentially in New York City in the last two decades. I plan to write more about the facility in the coming weeks.
And I am also pleased to report that track and field — known as athletics elsewhere on this planet — is the biggest growth sport in all of England. Not by a little either. Check out this piece from Andy Haylett, a research manager at Ipsos.
Hopefully the surge will uncover the next great thrower.