Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Smith Leads SIU Throwers
CARBONDALE -- John Smith is not a hard guy to find.
Most days you'll see him at the Connie Price-Smith throws area, coaching his throwers.
"I developed this work ethic and basically sitting here on this field for six, seven or eight hours a day," Smith said.
Smith is in his ninth year as the SIU throws coach. He's got more than three decades experience, helping high schoolers and Olympians alike.
"I like working with kids that come from small town America that have a work ethic and that's what it takes to be a good thrower," he said.
Hard work is something Smith's quite fond of. The Indiana native started helping his father run the family's painting business when he was a teenager. Little did he know, it would lead him to SIU.
"My dad told me when I was 14 years old, 'Son, if you want to go to college, you better figure out a way to pay for it yourself.' So I did. I took that hunk of metal and figured out a way to get it done."
Smith earned a scholarship to Southern in the early 80's. He became an All-American by the time he graduated, winning eight Missouri Valley Conference championships. He still holds the school and conference records in the shot put.
"Southern gave me a shot to be a thrower here."
Nearly 30 years later, Smith is back where it all started. He credits his success to a unique training regiment.
"My kids throw real heavy, down to real light implements, that's a lot of what other schools won't do," Smith said.
"He has a little pile that works and he has a big pile that doesn't," SIU senior thrower J.C. Lambert said. "The little pile is his experiments he's done for years and years."
Smith's success also stems from the type of athlete he recruits.
"He doesn't go for the all-star athletes," SIU sophomore thrower Bradley Sauer said. "He picks the people that he knows will work and do the program that he's run for years and years."
Those athletes are often times from Southern Illinois. Three of his nine throwers on this year's team are from the area.
"Southern Illinois is not known for a hotbed of track and field and it creates a lot of interest when you have athletes from the local area on your team, especially when they're doing well."
And when Smith's involved, those athletes always seem to succeed.
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