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Interval Session #30 - Victoria Flowers

January 31, 2008

2007 was a very good year for Classical RI senior Victoria Flowers.  It started last winter, when she was a national champion in the weight throw as a junior, winning the 2007 National Scholastic Indoor Championships.  She led the nation in the weight throw indoors that season, at 58-01.25, and then took her prowess outdoors, where she spun the hammer out to 171-02 for 4th best in the country on Bob Gourley's yearly list.  Her junior campaign ended with a hammer throw runner-up at the 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals.

Then, in the waning days of December 2007, as the young indoor season got underway, Flowers capped the momentous year with a monster 61-00.75 national weight throw record at the Brown Invitational, taking down Maureen Griffin's 60-10.50 from 1997.  The new year dawns full of promise for this talented thrower, who specializes in the weight throw and hammer, but is formidable in the shot put as well.  She'll certainly have opportunities to improve on her national indoor record in the coming weeks, then face a rematch in the hammer throw with the talented Georgia throwing corps at the outdoor nationals.

DyeStat assistant editor Dave Devine bundles up and heads to Rhode Island for some lessons in the ballistic ballet known as the weight throw.

1) It's been a pretty good winter for you so far, with the highlight almost certainly being the US weight throw record you established at the Brown Invitational in December.  Can you take us back to that meet and tell us what it was like?  Did you have a feeling that day that the record could go down?
That day was amazing. I went into that meet just wanting to break the house record which was 57'. So to throw 58' was my original goal, but I was aware of the national record. When I was throwing my practice throws, I just felt good about it. Then when I threw it and realized I had set the record, I was just overwhelmed and felt absolutely amazing.

2) How did you first get interested in the throws, and specifically the weight throw and the hammer?  The shot put and discus are far more well-known around the country; the two events in which you excel are a bit more obscure.  How did you find your way there?
As a freshman in high school, I tried out for my school's basketball team because I had played basketball in middle school and, along with football, basketball was a big sport in my family. I actually made the team, but one of the coaches for the team told me that I looked like someone who could do well in Track & Field. So he told me to try it out and people began to tell me certain things about Track that I couldn't find in basketball. So I ended up sticking with it.

3) You were runner-up in the hammer throw at last year's Nike Outdoor Nationals, so it's not like your talents are restricted to the indoor implement.  Can you discuss the similarities between throwing the weight indoors, and the hammer outside?  They seem like vastly different implements, yet people who excel at one tend to do very well in the other.  Is it a similarity in technique? Movement?  Approach?

Well, transitioning from a 20 lb weight to an 8 lb hammer is a big change between the seasons, but what makes it easy and similar is the fact that the basics don't change. The footwork stays the same along with the actual rotation of the ball, so it's not always a difficult transition.

4) The girl who beat you in that Nike Outdoor National competition was Allison Horner, a member of the well-known Georgia throws group, Throw1Deep.  It seems like those girls get a lot of support and camaraderie down there, and do very well as a group.  What's the training environment like for you at Classical High?  Looking at Bob Gourley's latest weight throw rankings, it appears you have several teammates also involved in the weight throw...do you all work out and practice together?  Does it have the feeling of a close-knit training group?
Yes, those girls do seem very close. At Classical, our environment is positive and I couldn't ask for a better way to learn how to throw. And I do have a few of my friends who are also on Mr. Gourley's list. We all do work out, train, and practice together. We are a very close group of friends and what makes it all the better is the fact that we are all friends outside of the circle. We support each other 100% and always push each other. We love to see each other do well and excel.

5) Speaking of training, can you describe a typical week of practice?  With the weather Rhode Island tends to get in the winter, where do you do most of your working out?  Are you able to find a space to practice indoors?
Well, there never is a normal week of practice, because of our wonderful Rhode Island weather, but because we have to throw the weight outdoors at our meets, we usually practice outside. That way when we go to our meets, the weather isn't a big factor and doesn't hurt our throws. But we do use one of the gyms inside our school to practice throwing on a different surface, especially when we have meets at Brown or URI.

6) To the casual observer, it might seem like the weight throw (even more so than the hammer) is all about strength and power.  But equally important are things like speed, balance and agility.  Can you describe the elements that go into a perfect weight throw, and what things you're hoping to improve about your throwing this winter and spring?
Most people assume that you can only throw the weight if you are large and possibly look like a bodybuilder, but the necessary things like speed, balance, and agility make all the difference. For the perfect weight throw, there must be a strong sense of balance because the weight can definitely pull someone out a control. Speed is important, but it must progress over the spins otherwise you can go out of control again. There also just has to be focus. Without focusing on what you are doing, you can easily mess up your throw. Especially at track meets, you have to be able to block out the sounds of people shouting and the sounds of the guns, because the smallest thing can distract you and throw off the entire throw.

7) I saw that you plan to attend the University of Connecticut next year, just like the New Jersey shot putter, Michael Alleman, with whom I spoke last week.  What's the draw to UConn for prep throwers?  Do they have a particularly good throws coach or tradition in collegiate throwing?  What things are you looking forward to about attending UConn next year?
First of all, for me, UConn isn't far from home, but UConn is just a great place to continue my throwing career. The facilities are great and the coaches are amazing people. They have a good reputation for female throwers which just made it all the better. It's just a welcoming place to be and for me, it was just a good fit. Next year, I look forward to getting better, throwing farther, and seeing how far I can go.

8) Do you ever pick up other heavy things, swing them around, and hurl them, just to see how far you can toss them?  Or do friends at school ever say, "I bet you can't throw this backpack...."  Basically, what's the oddest thing you've ever thrown for distance?
Haha. The funny thing is I actually do that sometimes. And my friends love to come up to me and say, "Victoria, throw this. Let's see how far it goes." People also love to say, "Be careful. Don't make Victoria mad or she might throw you." I find it hilarious. I don't always throw things but I sometimes do spin with things. Some objects have been a backpack, a broom, shopping bags, or just any random thing I can find.

Photo by John Nepolitan

Interval Sessions Indoors 08