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Olympian Powell Hosts Clinic At OHS
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Three-time U.S. Olympian Suzy Powell held a throws clinic at Oakdale High School on Sunday. Here, she examines the balance of OHS students Savannah Boster (back) and Brandon Vierra (front). DENNIS D. CRUZ/The Leader

Three-time U.S. Olympian, Suzy Powell, held a World Athletics Center Phase One Throws Clinic at Oakdale High School on Sunday, March 16.

The Modesto resident is the current American record holder in the discus with an even 222 feet. She attended UCLA, where she was a five-time All-American. In 1994 Powell competed in the World Junior Championships, where she took home the Bronze Medal in Lisbon, Portugal. Powell also represented the USA in the Olympic Games where she competed in the summer games in 1996, 2000 and 2008.

Powell, along with the help from five high school throws coaches, showed the nearly three dozen attendees the proper technique of throwing. The athletes included students from various high schools including locals from Oakdale and Pitman in Turlock, while others traveled from the Bay Area and Sacramento region.

“I have held many throwing clinics, but this is my first local clinic. We chose OHS because they have one of the best facilities and it just made sense geographically,” Powell noted.

“Having Suzy come to Oakdale High School is amazing. She is the most decorated woman in discus in the nation. It would be like having Joe Montana come out here and hold a quarterback clinic. Our thought was why not bring in the best?,” Oakdale throws coach Brett Chappell explained.

The eight-hour clinic began with an intense stretching session that included 20-yard side shuffles, 20-yard backward skips, and 10 yards worth of “inch crawlers”, where you get on your hands and knees stretch your feet out and walk your feet back to your original position then use your hands to move forward. After that it was time to for the athletes to get their balance technique perfected. This included the use of standing on one leg while tossing up a medicine ball. Shortly after that, the athletes began working on the proper formation for throwing. This would be a large part of the clinic’s main focus. They would work on everything from balance, eye/hand coordination and timing and rhythm. After lunch the group would come back and continue working hard on their formation. The group would wrap things up on the field where they finished with throwing.

“It was a great turnout. Coaches were a tremendous help, and I appreciate all of them for coming out. It was nice to work with such a knowledgeable group,” shared Powell.

The students were excited and grateful as well.

“This was my first track clinic that I’ve been a part of. A lot of coaches came out here and have taken the time out of their weekend to work with us one on one. They covered everything and helped us out a lot with our form and that will make us better throwers,” OHS senior Savannah Boster shared of her experience. “Suzy told me to use my hips and legs to better my balance and she worked with me until I improved. She was great and I will never forget this.”

Chappell said success of Sunday’s event bodes well for the future.

“Oakdale High School would like to thank all of the coaches that came out here to lend a hand and convey their expertise toward all of the student athletes. We would like to make this an annual event,” Chappell said.