When Kevin Eager thinks of sophomore shot-putter Hadassah Ward, he thinks of a rubber band. Pull her back, store the energy and then — BOING! —let it fly.
“She’s just really explosive,” Eager said of his shot-putter, whose first name is pronounced Ha-DOSS-a. “When she came in and visited when her older sister was here, the first thing I noticed, she’d do all this jumpy stuff. She bounced around like a hurdler would. She has the size to be a good thrower and she has the disposition of a jumper or hurdler. That’s the way the world-class athletes are. All the best throwers are really bouncy and elastic, and their muscles hit the ground and they just react. She just has that.”
It’s what made her one of the state’s best shot-putters last year as a freshman. At the Class 4A state meet, Ward tied Tahoma’s Ginny Mehl with a distance of 42 feet, 5 1/2 inches. But Mehl had the better second throw, which was the tiebreaker, and was awarded the 4A state title. Ward settled for second place.
“It was heartbreaking,” Ward said. “When I didn’t win, it was just rough.”
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Ward was hurdler at Goodman Middle School, until she tried shot put one day. She was a natural, and currently holds the school record by about 10 feet.
Last week, in a meet against Bellarmine, Ward set a personal record in the shot put: 42-7, the best distance in the state so far this year.
“I was really happy with myself,” she said.
Think of Ward’s development another way: Like a computer, with world-class hardware — the best specifications on the market. Now, the process of capitalizing on her natural ability is like adding the software to the computer.
“The way you install the software is by discipline training,” Eager said. “That’s what makes her good. She’s not that strong. She’s still young. She’ll get super strong. If you saw her weight room numbers, you’d be shocked at how weak she was. But those numbers got better this year. … She’s a 16-year-old girl who is not a finished product at all. We’re a developmental program.”
If that development continues on schedule, Ward could see herself at the top of the podium for a while. This season, she seems to be hitting her stride at the right time.
But Tahoma’s Mehl is also back, as a junior, and figures to provide the same level of stiff competition for Ward at the state meet.
“I just hope I can stay up there,” Ward said. “Last year was rough, losing to her on the second throw. I would be really happy if I could beat her.”