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Interval Session #102 - Emily Vannoy

By Dave Devine - Febuary 26, 2009

Last winter, the girls indoor shot put was dominated by a pair of celebrated seniors--Becky O'Brien ME and Karen Shump PA-- who traded US-leading throws from a distance before locking up in a memorable battle for bragging rights at Nike Indoor Nationals.  Shump took that title with a US#1 mark and huge PR of 52-04, with O'Brien second at 51-05.  The top underclass thrower in that competition, and largely overlooked in the coverage, was Governor Thomas Johnson MD junior Emily Vannoy, third at 46-04.75.  Just over a month later, Vannoy hung a loss on the indoor champ at the 2008 Penn Relays, reaching a PR of 48-03 to take home the Penn Relays watch over Shump.  From there she was the Maryland 4A state champion with a state record heave of 48-07.75 (to go along with her 133-04 discus win), and runner-up to O'Brien at the Nike Outdoor Nationals with a mark of 45-08.

This season, Vannoy is back for her senior campaign and doesn't appear to have missed a beat.  After winning the Virginia Tech Invite in January with a 46-11 effort, Vannoy solidified her place in Maryland throws history with a then-US#2 state record 47-10.25.  Last weekend, Anna Jelmini's 51-05 at Simplot relegated Vannoy to US#3, but she's gearing up again for a national championship push in two weeks.

DyeStat senior editor Dave Devine steps into the circle with the best girls shot putter Maryland has ever seen.
1) Congrats on your recent win at the Maryland State Indoor Meet.  If I'm not mistaken, you now have the state shot put record for both indoors and outdoors, which is quite an accomplishment.  Can you talk about how your indoor season is going so far, and what meets have stood out for you this winter?

My indoor season is going pretty well. I improved on my indoor PR by a foot between last year and this year, so I can't complain. I'm not really an indoor thrower. I don't like the shot, so to throw 47' 10'' indoors feels good. The state meet and the Virginia Tech Invitational were the meets that stuck out to me the most. I was able to get really pumped for both and my numbers were good. I'm hoping I'll be able to say that about Nationals.

2) Last year, not too long after finishing third to Karen Shump at Nike Indoor Nationals, you ended up beating her at the Penn Relays, which was a great win for you at 48-03.  Was that a good confidence-builder?  If you had to identify your biggest win or best performance in the shot put to date, which would you select?

Penn Relays was a great confidence builder for me. It was more the way I won than actually winning. I came in seeded fourth, and going into finals Karen and I were tied at 47' 2''. I was technically winning because I had thrown that mark my first attempt and she had thrown it her second, so going into my final throw, I knew I had won, but that didn't seem like a good way to win so I was able to throw a little farther to cement the victory in my own mind. To come away with that gold watch was definitely my biggest win in shot so far.

3) One of the things I noticed about the girls shot put competition at NIN last year was the sense of camaraderie and support among throwers, even as the competition grew fierce.  Is that something you feel as a competitor, and if so, what do you think leads to that sort of closeness among the female throwers?

There is so much comaraderie and support among throwers, which I haven't ever seen in any other event group. I guess it's just the type of people that choose to throw. Even when the competition gets fierce we still all root for each other, and although it's nice to win, I know I was really happy for Karen at NIN. She deserved that ring.

4) What are the three best pieces of advice you've received regarding the shot put (or life in general) and who did you receive them from?
  • "There are always off days, but you can't let them hold you back."
    My trainer tells me this all the time and it helps me so much through slumps where I'm not throwing well.
  • "The only way to throw to your full potential is through hard work." - My coach tells me this on a regular basis and it's so true.
  • "Be humble, not cocky." - My parents and coach have told me this from day one. I think it's the most important thing in higher-level athletics to be humble and not look down on people.

5) If you were coaching yourself, what things would you identify as your strengths as a thrower, and what elements are still "works in progress"?
I would say that my arm speed and ability to rise to a challenge are my strengths.  As for works in progress, my form is really not so good. I need to work on getting more of my legs into the throw.

6) For those who may not understand the finer points of shot putting, can you break down your typical throw for us, explaining what you're trying to accomplish in each phase of the put?

Well, for both glide shot put and spin shot put the goal is to get into a good "power" position. The power position is the position at the front of the circle when your feet face the side, your shoulders face the back, your hips are torqued, and you're ready to throw. For glide shot put, which is what I do, from the back of the circle you really just want to push hard off the right foot and keep your hips and shoulders facing the back of the circle. Once you get to the power position you want to explode with your hips and put the living daylights out of the shot.

7) I noticed your email address includes the phrase "music is life."  If you don't mind sharing, what's the meaning or importance of music in your life?  Are you someone who's into listening to music, or perhaps playing it?  If so, what instrument?  If we plugged into your iPod, what would we find on your most-played list?

Music is really important to me. I'm pretty much always listening to music and I have a major problem with the no-iPod-in-competition-areas rule!  :)   But other than listening to music constantly, I've also played the piano for 8 years and the guitar for about two. Music is just so powerful. It can change moods, it can speak to and for people, and it has the ability to inspire. If you plugged into my iPod and looked at my most-played, you would find a lot of variety, songs like, "My Life Would Suck Without You" - Kelly Clarkson, "Before It's Too Late" - Goo Goo Dolls, "View From Heaven" - Yellowcard, "Remember the Name" - Fort Minor, "Just Dance" - Lady Gaga, "Fences" - Paramore, and "King of Pride Rock (Score)" - Hans Zimmer (yes, from the Lion King)

8) You've recently signed a letter of intent to compete at the University of Virginia next year.  Can you discuss the recruiting process, how the selection went for you, and what in particular drew you to UVA?  What things are you excited about, when you think about being a Cavalier next year?

The recruiting process went really well for me. I was fortunate enough to get a number of calls from great schools with genuine coaches. I narrowed down my options early, and UVA was actually my first visit. I went on one other visit and I canceled the other two I had scheduled because I just knew that UVA was where I belonged. They blew me away.

The team had a hunger to win and a closeness that was all but overwhelming, and I'm already friends with all the throwers, they're great! What really sold me was the coaching. All of the coaches had that aim-to-win attitude and I knew that I would thrive in that atmosphere. Coach Vigilante, the head coach, had an intensity about track and about success that intimidated me a little, but I loved it. Coach Lane, the throws coach, is just so knowledgable and she has the same passion for winning that the other members of the coaching staff have. We really click and I know that I'll be really successful there. I'm so excited to be a Cavalier!  I can't wait to be surrounded by people who have the same desires I do and coaches who know so much about track.  I'm most excited about throwing to my potential though. I can't wait to see how far I can go!.

Photos: Top, John Nepolitan from 2008 Penn Relays; Middle, Ken Charnock 2009 VT Invite, Bottom, submitted by Emily

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