Stop choosing to be average

I compete on SDSU’s track team with several other amazing throwers. To me, it is an amazing privilege. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a college athlete.

It’s all been possible because I didn’t settle for being average. If you have goals, go get ‘em! There’s no point in having regrets. In this day and age, too many people are happy with being average; don’t be one of them.

I can still remember the first day of track practice I went to when I was 12 years old. I was a pudgy little blonde girl, nervous because I hadn’t really had much experience with track and I felt that if you were in track, you had to be a runner. And at that time, I was NOT built like a runner.

My track coach knew I was advanced in other sports, including volleyball and basketball, so she had high expectations of me for track. She made me strive for a higher standard than other girls. I tried long jump, the 400 meter dash, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, high jump, and all the sprint relays. Jumps were definitely not my strong suit. My sprint times weren’t bad but they definitely weren’t anything exceptional. It wasn’t until eighth grade that my coaches tested my throwing abilities with the shot put and discus. They became my favorite events very soon.

The only problem was that I didn’t have a throwing coach. Learning the proper technique and form was solely up to me. My coaches helped as much as they could, but if I wanted to be a strong competitor within our region, I had to be willing to put in a lot more hours outside of team practices.

So I did just that. I didn’t want to settle for being average. I wanted to break a throwing record. I wanted to be a regional champ. I wanted to go to state. And I was determined to accomplish these goals.

I spent a lot of hours watching videos of Olympic throwers so I could try to mimic their form. I spent extra hours in the weight room getting stronger. I went back to our track even when practice was over just so I could get extra throws in.

It was a slow and frustrating process, but it all paid off. I was able to break our women’s high school shot put record. I became a regional champion in shot put. I was able to qualify for the state for three years. I grew to love and appreciate track, and therefore, I didn’t want it to end when I graduated high school. So I walked onto SDSU’s track team when I was a freshmen.

Looking back on it, I’m sure that nervous 12-year-old never would have dreamed that she’d be able to compete as a Jackrabbit for SDSU’s track team in the future. 

I’m so glad she stuck with it and made it happen.

Rachel Astleford is a nutrition and dietetics major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]