When Jason Silbaugh left Lakes High to become the head coach of Bonney Lake football as well as the throwing coach for the Panthers’ track and field team, the goal for the entrenched coach was a simple one when he approached his on-campus recruitment.
He wanted to get as many kids out as possible.
“It doesn’t matter their ability level,” Silbaugh said. “The goal was to get as many kids out as possible. I was at Lakes High for nine years, and the last five years we had over 50 throwers every year. When I came in, one of my angles was to get the numbers up into the 50s.”
With numbers put aside, Bonney Lake has become one of the top track and field programs in the Class 3A over the past several seasons.
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The boys and girls throwing team has led the charge.
Last year Bonney Lake had a state champion in the girls shot put with Samantha Boudreau’s (now at Eastern Washington) mark of 41 feet, 11 inches. The team also brought home a title in the discus with Dreakeanna Adair, who set the state mark with a throw of 133-9.
Caleb Davis placed second in the shot with a mark of 54-8.75 and seventh in the discus (160-2) for the boys last season.
“Having that person who can teach you how to prepare like what Sam did for me was important because it allowed me to learn how to handle the situations when there was pressure on me to do well,” Adair said. “I was able to learn from her, and now I’m trying to do the same with the throwers who are younger than me or don’t have the same experience as me. When I’m trying to explain to them why or how to throw, I’m also thinking about how I would go through the steps, and by doing that, I’m actually becoming a better thrower myself. You can learn a lot just by trying to teach other people what you know.”
This year Bonney Lake’s throwing team looks to have just as much punch as last season’s team, as the Panthers have added Kiana Schwendeman, who captured the Utah Class 5A girls discus championship with a mark of 130-3.
“Coming to a program that has the history that Bonney Lake has with their throwers has me excited about the season,” Schwendeman said. “I feel this is the right place to help me improve.”
Having so many of the 3A’s top throwers on one team has become a dream for coach Silbaugh, yet it’s not what brings the coach to the field no matter the weather. The coach is always there in the little corner of Bonney Lake just adjacent to the tennis court and baseball field.
This small section has become a home for many.
“For me, I get to be someone who can teach the younger throwers on the team who don’t have the mechanics right yet, or who haven’t thrown all that much before, I get to teach them and help them improve,” Davis said. “And by doing that, I have seen myself improve because I’m now have to explain to them what to do. I’ve learned a lot by taking on that role with the team as well as felt more ownership to the team’s success.”
And the team’s success has not come solely from the athletes who are competing in May at Mount Tahoma Stadium as part of the state track and field meet.
“I take more pride in the kids that come into the throwing team who would never think they could be an athlete, but they come here and are able to represent their school,” Silbaugh said. “For me it’s more exciting to see when those athletes who start with throwing 40 feet, but by the end of the season, they are throwing 20 feet better than their starting marks. That kind of improvement means they never gave up and they believed in themselves and their team. I find those are the stories I love to see at the end of the year.”