One woman shall have all that power
It starts off with a pose. Let’s call it the Statue of Amity.
Lindsay McShane, the Warriors’ sophomore thrower, stands toward the back of the shot put ring. She holds the 8.8-pound implement in her right hand, her arm straight above her head. Her body is mostly turned away from the red dirt where the shot put will land. She glances back at a particular spot.
“When I turn, my coach always has me look at a focal point that I throw towards,” McShane says. “So I hold it, look at it, and then it’s in my mind. As a thrower, you have to keep your eyes back. If I can see it in my mind, it helps me throw there.”
McShane employs a technique known as the glide, almost universal among female high-school throwers. McShane bends down low, back to the dirt, her weight on her right foot, the left one occasionally tapping the concrete ring for a sense of place. Technically, the glide is a three-step maneuver – push toward the center with the right foot, plant with the left foot and bring the right foot to a standing position on the follow-through. Everything above the ankles – the hip rotation, the shoulder rotation, the explosion up to a standing position – is inherently special to the athlete.
“When she throws well, the main thing she does is she has what’s called torque,” says Amity assistant track and field coach Randy Hayes, who supervises the throwers. “The longer the path you create for the implement to go through, the more you’re going to exert force on it.
“Lindsay’s done a very good job of staying back and going forward. When she comes up, her right knee, her right hip, her shoulders are turning at exact moment. You’ve got to get that right side squared up together.”
McShane, the News-Register All-Valley Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year for 2014, considers the shot put her favorite event, but her talents extend to the discus and javelin throws. She won Class 3A individual state championships in the shot (39 feet, 11.5 inches) and discus (125 feet, 1 inch) and finished fourth in the javelin throw (122 feet, 11 inches). All three were personal records. McShane is the only Amity track and field athlete to win two individual titles at a state meet.
McShane holds school records in the shot put and discus throw; Amity’s javelin mark (131 feet by Carol Bryant in 1977) is well within her sights. All this from someone preoccupied with volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter and summer. “I only get her for 11 weeks a year,” Hayes says.
Hayes says that if McShane concentrated on track full time, “I think she could become one of best throwers the state ever saw. Period. As far as being an all-around thrower, you very rarely see someone who’s so good in all three.”
McShane is tall (5-foot-10), strong and physical; both she and Hayes admit that her footwork must improve in all events. Her devotion to details, Hayes says, sets her apart from her competition.
“To be a good thrower you have to have perfect form,” Hayes says. “To do that, you have to just throw and throw and throw with proper technique. Lindsay’s biggest problem is she wants to throw her world-class distance every time she throws.”
To do that, Hayes and McShane set a target in the form of a competitor. Maddie Shirley, Dayton’s outstanding junior thrower – and a Hayes protégé, and a friend of McShane – is a popular target. Mandy Wolfe of Vale and Sheila Limas of Blanchet Catholic, two of the state’s top throwers at 3A, also make good foils.
Hayes remembered how upset McShane was after the Class 3A West Valley League district meet this season – despite winning three events, she was disappointed over her shot put mark of 38-6.25 – three-quarters of an inch shorter than her mark in Amity’s first meet of the season. Hayes set the stage at a practice: Maddie Shirley put the shot 39 feet, and McShane had one throw to respond. It was marked at over 40 feet.
“Going against myself is helpful, but I also need to think that I have to push this far to get where I want. If I just go with my standards, I might go a little bit over, but if somebody’s going to blow me out, I don’t like to lose.”
It’s never personal, of course. McShane and all her competitors maintain relationships away from the rings. Once she steps inside her circle and locks in on her target, her competitors have to watch out.
“She’s very intense,” Hayes says. “She’s finally getting to the mindset of, when I’m in a competition, I’m not worried about the stands, I’m not worried about Mom and Dad, I’m not worried about fans, I’m not worried about what other athletes are doing.”