When an athlete admits to being uncoordinated and their coach backs them up, usually the athlete in question doesn’t go on to win conference championships and rewrite the record book in the process.
Somehow, Lora Shearer has done just that.
“If someone had told me when I was in high school that I would go on to hold the indoor hurdle and pentathlon record at SDSU, I would have laughed at them and told them they had a very sadistic sense of humor,” the Salem native said.
After qualifying for the state track meet four times during the course of her McCook Central High School career, Shearer decided to attend SDSU because of the higher level of competition that Division I had to offer. Once she got to SDSU, Shearer quickly realized the difference between high school and collegiate track and field.
“In my first two weeks of being on campus and doing workouts, I actually lost 10 pounds, and then I put on 20 pounds of muscle in the next few months.” Shearer said.
Shearer says she was unaccustomed to the workout regimens and competition level that would accompany Division I athletics. She struggled in her first year of competition and turned in some of her worst jumping distances since middle school. After becoming so used to success and then turning one of her worst seasons in years, Shearer had to be talked into staying on the track team by her teammates and coaches.
When considering what fueled her dramatic turnaround that led her to be a record setting athlete, Shearer credits the ability of the coaching staff to motivate her.
“I’ve just always had a drive to do better, and a big part of that was because of my teammates and coaches,” Shearer said. “The way I see it, if I have a coach who is willing to support me, how can I give them anything less than 100 percent?”
Shearer now has two individual conference championships to her credit. She took the high jump title at the 2009 Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships and won the pentathlon at the 2012 Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championships as well as being named the Female Field Championship MVP.
In order to give herself extra time to prepare for another season, Shearer and her coaches agreed that it would be a good idea to redshirt her for one season and delay her senior year until the 2011-2012 season.
“She just thought she’d come back stronger and a better athlete (after a year off),” head track and field coach Rod DeHaven said.
Once she came back from her time as a redshirt, Shearer was thrown into a new event: the pentathlon. Although she had tried the event during her redshirt season and finished only 50 points away from the school record, Shearer figured she wouldn’t hear of the event again. But her coaches approached her before her senior year about giving the event another try.
“She was outstanding in three of the five events, so we figured that we could teach her the shot put and let the 800 just naturally happen as a part of her training,” DeHaven said. “A lot of people try to lean on one event and she was a jumper that was gifted enough to do that, but we wanted her to be able to make up ground on the other events, too.”
Aside from her accomplishments as an athlete, Shearer will most certainly be remembered amongst her teammates for something that comes immediately after an outstanding performance her celebrations. DeHaven said her name is “synonymous” with her over-the-top celebrations when she achieves a personal best. When asked about her celebrations, Shearer can’t help but laugh.
“I jump up and down, freak out, whatever feels right,” Shearer said. “Whenever I have a new PR (personal record), usually the whole stadium knows it.”
All competitive and celebratory jumping aside, Shearer said that she’ll miss her time with her teammates the most. She gave a great deal of credit to her teammates for providing her motivation and a reason to work hard. Shearer said that one of the hardest things she had ever done was training by herself in pool workouts during an injury, and the experience taught her just how much she enjoys working with her teammates.
“The camaraderie here is unlike anything I experienced in high school. It’s at a whole different level here,” Shearer said.
DeHaven said that Shearer is an athlete that gets genuinely excited to compete, and her bubbly personality and encouraging attitude made her appreciated by her teammates.
“In a sport where there isn’t a lot of patting on the back…it’s good to see her enthusiasm,” he said.