Proving his worth despite odds

Brown walked on to track team his freshman year, but dedication has helped him climb WSU record books



Redshirt junior Amani Brown roars as he completes the final turn of his weight throw at the Cougar Indoor on Feb. 2.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

Sometimes coaches know talent when they see it. That was the case for Amani Brown, a redshirt junior hammer thrower on the WSU track and field team.

Brown walked on the team as a freshman, having never thrown hammer before college. He had experience in discus and shotput in high school, but was told by WSU coaches he was best suited for hammer after trying out.

Technique is a crucial part of the hammer throw. Brute strength alone will not bring home medals. Brown said he has spent the past four years trying to refine his craft in order to compete among the best.

“You can be as strong as you want,” Brown said, “but that doesn’t mean you know how to turn it into making it actually go far against people that know how to make it go far and use their strength.”

Picking up an event after many other competitors have been training for years was a large barrier for Brown, but Associate Head Coach Julie Taylor said he was adept at it.

“The learning curve all depends on the type of athlete you are coaching,” Taylor said. “[Brown] is a good athlete and he is very coachable. So even though he had never thrown a hammer before he came to WSU, he was able to pick up the technique quickly.”

Taylor said the biggest focus for Brown is controlling his power with his technique, something he has improved since starting at WSU.

Brown said his confidence in throwing has improved thanks to his hard work at WSU. Continuing to push himself every practice has payed off in placing as one of the best throwers in the Pac-12.

“With any craft, with any sport, the older you get the more you realize that other people are also getting better as well,” Brown said. “In order to keep up with them and in order to continue to get better, you got to work hard even on the smallest of things.”

Taylor said Brown is not just physically capable of being a great thrower, but also diligent in his analysis of his technique. She said she occasionally has to advise him to just throw and stop thinking so much.

Despite competing in an individual sport, Brown said he and his teammates always push each other to get better. The close-knit group of hammer throwers practices like it’s a competition to create an atmosphere that allows each athlete to tap into their potential.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about us getting better,” Brown said. “We all motivate each other, we all want each other to do the best. Even when other teams aren’t throwing as far as us, we turn it into a competition between each other.”

It has not always been easy for Brown, though. He said there were times when he thought he might give up throwing, but his mom and his sister helped support him. They gave him the confidence to continue working toward a spot in the WSU history books.

Brown said if he continues to improve, he hopes to someday get a chance as a professional thrower, and Taylor believes he has the potential.

“The sky is the limit for Amani.  I believe he can be a national-caliber hammer and weight thrower,” Taylor said. “The cool thing is he still can improve and refine his technique to see even more gains.  Not bad for a kid who walked on to our team.”

Brown said he ultimately just wants to throw far, and he’s come a long way from his early days as a walk on.

“I felt like I had the strength to do it, I just didn’t have the technique to do it,” Brown said. “Now I’m at the point where things are starting to come together and starting to click, and technique and strength is working out.”