Graham volunteers as shot put, discus coach for SSHS
April 12, 2009
Gavin Graham always has been the fat guy, ever since he could remember.
While earlier in his life the weight bothered him, Graham, the owner of Tropical Rockies, said he found a sport where even a fat guy can be competitive.
Graham found the track and field world of shot put and discus, sports that helped him not only discover a great deal about himself, but also get a college education.
Now, Graham is helping to bring the sport he loves to Steamboat Springs youths. He’s in his first year as a volunteer throwing coach for the Steamboat Springs High School track and field team.
“I’ve always been the fat kid,” Graham said while laughing before practice Thursday. “Based on that, I was uncomfortable, insecure and inwardly turned on myself. It was something great for a fat guy to find a sport. But here it’s different for me. All we got in the ‘Boat is skinny kids. Not a single one of the throwers has a gut. But it shows not only (that you) don’t have to be huge, you can be a big person and be a thin, athletic person and do it with technique.”
Graham’s track and field career began in California, when he was in seventh grade. He threw and played football until his junior year of high school when he fractured his lower lumbar.
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“Then I went track all the way,” he said.
He started having success and garnered five scholarship offers but instead decided to go to the University of Colorado where he felt he’d get the best coaching.
He threw for the Buffs for four years and graduated in the summer of 1999. After that, Graham had aspirations of competing in the 2004 Athens Olympic games. He said he knew it would have taken him four years to have a shot. He was training six days a week, doing two hours of lifting and three hours of throwing each day.
But a left knee injury and the financial pinch of heavy training ended his run.
Graham pretty much has been out of the sport the past few years, but when he got the opportunity to help at the high school, he jumped at the chance.
“He has a higher level and great level of expertise and experience that you don’t see outside of big programs or big cities,” Steamboat head track coach Luke DeWolfe said. “I think he connects well with our kids. He’s gotten kids that might not be interested in throwing into throwing.”
That’s the thing for Graham. He sees throwing events as a special niche that could lead some athletes to a college scholarship. He said his time with the high school team has revitalized his interest in the sport.
He’s already made a portable throwing ring that he built and bought for the team. Although he has been pleased with the progression of his throwers, the reality of spring sports in Steamboat has been a challenge.
Graham said it’s been tough to teach all he can while only getting a limited amount of time outside. Still, with his newfound passion, Graham has talked about running a summer camp or summer workouts with interested athletes.
Either way, he knows this is something he wants to do for years. He wants to campaign for the sport that gave him so much.
“It has revitalized my passion for the sport,” he said about coaching. “I think I’ve been able to help them, and I think they’re having fun. Hopefully it brings kids out of their shells and gives other kids something to take a step toward.”