Throwing Towards Success


Photo Courtesy of: McCrae Williams

McCrae Williams at Palo Verde’s meet

Chloe Reoyo, Journalist

Track and field is back at Shadow for spring sports, and the throwers have been very successful. Coach Katelyn Blanchard is passionate about throwing and she wants to share her passion with her students. 

“I have thrown shotput and discus since I was in elementary school and I always enjoyed it. I started coaching this season at Shadow Ridge, I have been enjoying my time very much” explains Blanchard. 

Coach Blanchard trains throwers from Monday through Friday and helps them to perform at their maximum potential.

“I want to work on my form and technique as well as getting better at gliding and spinning for my throwing events. I can do this through getting advice from Coach and friends on the team to help me,” explains sophomore Andie Hughes.

After being the 2022 boys and girls regional champions, expectations and goals are high, but Shadow’s student-athletes are confident about achieving them. 

Senior McCrae Williams explains, “My goals for the season are to throw over 40 feet for shot put and throw over 110 feet for discus. I also want to win state for track and hope that the throwers can be a valuable asset for the team.” 

Hughes says, “I am working towards getting 30 feet in shot and 95 feet in disc and going to state for the first time.” 

Finding balance between practice, school, weekly meets and invites can be hard, but the athletes have found a way to manage all of those responsibilities, while being successful at them. 

“Having a half schedule as a senior really helps me manage my time between school, practice, and meets. I’m able to take my classes in the morning and have the afternoons free for practice and meets,” tells Williams. “It’s also important for me to prioritize my responsibilities and create a schedule that works for me, and I try to use any free time I have during the day to get my homework done. It can be a juggling act, but it’s worth it to be able to balance my school workload with my sports commitments.

Athletes know that teachers and coaches are willing to help them and lead them to a balanced lifestyle.

“It takes a lot of work and at times can become incredibly stressful, but not being afraid to ask teachers and friends in classes for help works to get the work done and leave my weekends somewhat free to relax,” says Hughes.

Being part of a team is very meaningful for the athletes, but also for the coaches. They create a relationship based on confidence and the willingness to learn and get better. Both share a passion, which makes their relationship even more special. 

“I hope that they are learning good sportsmanship and enjoying the sport as well. Our team is growing as individuals, many athletes have hit new personal records. I have loved seeing the growth and am hoping to continue to see this growth,” explains Blanchard. 

Athletes enjoy helping each other, giving them advice based on what their coach has taught but also giving personal advice based on their experience. 

Rafael Nadal is my biggest athletic inspiration because he is a great tennis player who is extremely powerful, quick, and aggressive. He has shown me how technical and powerful athletes can become, and I can apply those qualities to any sport.

— McCrae Williams

Hughes explains, “This year it means more to be part of a team because I’ve been finding new opportunities where I can help coach and teach some of the new throwers how they can improve and become better.”

Technique is the foundation of a sport, the throwers need to know how to do it before they try to do it better. 

Blanchard tells, “We are working hard to help our entire team win invitationals and meets. I like to focus on technique, once we have technique down then we can add in power. The throwing team has shown an awesome willingness to learn, show up, and work hard at practices.”

Sometimes, it’s not easy to stay motivated when it gets hard, but the athletes know what to do in that case.

“It’s really frustrating when I keep getting worse, but I motivate myself by reminding myself that if I just keep practicing and correcting my technique, I will eventually end up throwing farther. By staying positive and focused on improvement, I can push through the tough times and come out stronger on the other side,” comments Williams. 

They can also look out for inspiration, someone who is going to remind them why they are doing what they are doing.

“My older brothers Joseph and Ethan Hughes have always been my inspiration because even when it got hard they pushed through the workouts, pain, and through their events and I am proud to have such amazing brothers that can set such an example for me,” explains Hughes.