Writing Center
Fall 2009 Edition

Throwing Partners

Tayson Whittaker
Expressive 1010 2nd Place
Throwing Partners

Walking into my dimly lit apartment room, I stumbled as I kicked a pair of small objects. I flipped on the light switch and glanced down to see my track and field throwing shoes blocking the entrance. Moving them from their previous hurried placement, I began to ponder on everything these shoes had gone through. It had been nearly four years since I purchased these beautiful shoes online, and in that time they had seen many different places around the state. Three years of meets, hundreds of practice days, and plenty of time in the closet made me think how rugged they really should look, but upon close inspection, the shoes were well taken care of.

It all started my sophomore year of high school. I joined the track team to hang out with friends, meet girls (since it is the only coed sport), and meet people from other schools. Little did I know I would fall in love with the sport in just a few weeks' time. I started out throwing the discus because after some research with other team mates it seemed like the easiest event to participate in requiring the least amount of work or embarrassment. I began at the bottom of the pack, fighting not to take last place and trying to compare myself to others in my grade so I didn't seem quite so terrible. At this time I had some remarkable throwing friends that taught me a lot of the basics. They were my idols at the time, throwing nearly 125 feet! It wasn't long before I decided a pair of new shiny shoes would help my throwing abilities like it had for them. Glancing over some websites, I ordered and had them delivered to my door in no time. I opened the box and found a beautiful pair of red and white, Nike rotational lV's. They had white laces, two straps and an extremely hard, yet glossy smooth bottom. These babies were my pride and joy for some time. Looking back on it, they really helped my confidence. Even though I wasn't yet the best discus thrower, I looked the part in these new doves.

Soon, I was in the ring testing them out. My first day was a disaster. I tried to throw the discus and spun too much or lost my balance since the soles were much smaller, smoother, and pointier than my other shoes. Lucky for me, I was born with a very strong desire of finishing strong and putting everything I've got into whatever I'm doing. Within a few weeks, I had beaten my best throw by ten feet. The shoes were just what I had needed, and in no time region track was our next meet. By this point, the shoes were broken in and ready for the opportunity to take me to state on a team that was destined for the state title. They did their best, but I fell a foot short of making the squad that would travel to BYU to compete for the title. Heartbroken, I threw them in the closet for a year and watched as the rest of the Richfield team came home with their 1st place trophy.

Next thing I knew, I was pulling my shoes out for the 2008 season. They were slightly dirty from lack of cleaning before storage so I cleaned them up and started to practice harder than ever. Unfortunately for me, I didn't have a coach for the discus or shot put so I battled the opponents alone. My friends had graduated and the coach that would attempt to help had never actually thrown discus and threw shot put one year placing low in the state. Despite how much he wanted to help, he didn't know how or what to do. The one thing I could insure I was doing, however, was putting in more time than any competitor. This was the time in my shoe's life where I wasn't sure how they would hold up to the condition by the end of the year. All in all, I improved more than I could have possibly imagined. From hoping to make state to missing second place by a foot was a good enough improvement for me in a year.

Coming home from the BYU track meet that year, I babied my shoes. They were and still are my pride and joy. I cleaned them thoroughly, then placed them in the closet in a very appropriate manner for a man's closest companion. You might describe this experience like I was tucking in my own baby. With tender care I closed the door for what I thought would be another year.

Mid-July rolled around and the shoes took perhaps their favorite practices ever. I grabbed them and took off to the BYU track camp for a week. It was at this time when my shoes and I became one. For the first time in our companionship, we were being coached by excellent coaches. Our knowledge of form and technique increased dramatically as well as our knowledge in the appropriate weight lifts for throwing. In those four days, I improved more than I usually did in one month of my own practices. This time, instead of putting them in the closet for good, I kept them handy and tried my hardest to practice with them off and on through fall and winter. I wanted nothing but perfection my senior year.

February rolled around and I began to practice daily without the team or coaches. Within no time, I was back to where I left off in the summer. Excited for the season, I pushed myself through an excruciating shoulder injury I had obtained in the football season. Hoping it couldn't stop me for good, I threw very little shot put because of the pressure it put on my injury. By the time the year was wrapping up, I was undefeated in the state of Utah for the event of discus. We were on top of the world. When I had started my sophomore year, I had a goal of throwing 130 feet by my senior year at state. At the time it seemed so hard I didn't dare tell anyone about my lofty goal. My senior year, I never threw below 142 at any meet, which made me feel like my goals had been more than exceeded.

State track finally rolled around in mid-May and I had never been more excited for anything. Not only was I ranked first in my best even of discus, but I had started to practice shot put again and threw a great toss at region to seed me first in that event as well. The pressure was on to perform and before I knew it, I was in the ring ready to throw. I was feeling more tension now than ever in my life. I had been coaching a friend to throw all year and the day before we came to the meet, he started to throw exceptionally well and was actually throwing a little farther than my throws for that particular day! If I had a bad day and he had a good day he could possibly beat me. I took my first throw and the numbers came up on the screen 148. A huge burden was lifted off my chest. I knew it would be an amazing day if any of my competitors could break 145 because no one in my division had done it this year except me. Watching my two closest competitors throw, I breathed with relief. Neither looked to be having an awesome day and I could tell the pressure was getting to them. My next throw I exploded. Feeling my shoes slip with force and my lungs let out a yell, I watched as my discus went farther than it had ever before. Excited, I stepped from the ring and waited for the numbers to be put up on the screen for all to see. Soon 159 came up on the screen. I had done it. I had beaten the 1A-5A marks! I had just secured my spot on the Western Conference National Utah team! I was in a dream state. I sat down and took off my shoes with shaking hands. We had done it. My shoes and I had set out with an immense goal and completed it.

The next day I laced them up for the last time as a high school student and won the shot put in them. Standing on the podium getting my medals, they announced that I had received the award of male outstanding field athlete of the meet for 1A-2A category. Later that day, the shoes took their last lap of the year, pounding along with all the other shoes from Richfield High School as we took our victory lap and claimed our state title.