April, 2000


Letter To The Editor
Guest commentary

Renaissance Man
An interview with the powerlifting guru

Alekna Throws Long!
Big man struts his stuff in Texas

Southern Methodist University
Small university-Big throws program

USATF Drug Testing - Part 2
The real deal from USATF

Fantasy Camp
Dreams do come true in the Northwest

If It Isn’t Core...
A unique and sensible approach to throws specific training

Decisions, Decisions...
An interview with SuperPrep Katy Polansky

Tom Pulstys Sequence Analysis
Jeff Gorski walks us through an 85 meter throw

Build It And They Will Come
‘Just Doing It’ in the Northwest

Mizzou Tigers Throws
Stalking the Big XII

The Quiet Man
Keep an eye on Utah State’s James Parker

SMU Rolls In Fayetteville
Mustangs rule the weights at NCAA Indoors

Eliminating Over-Rotation In The Discus Throw
Bud Rasmussen attacks a common problem

Coaches Corner
Advice to the forlorn

Figuratively Speaking
The Literalist weighs in

Dreams do come true in the Northwest
Fantasy Camp

By Glenn Thompson

Every winter, middle-aged pot-bellied yuppies twenty years and forty pounds past their prime, shell out thousands of dollars to spend a week playing a little baseball with the heroes of their youths. Such fantasy camps serve as connections to their pasts, a chance to take some pictures, grab some autographs and gather stories that will last a lifetime.

Such a place exists for throwers, but its purpose isn’t public relations or soaking softballers out of a month’s pay. The Iron Wood Thrower Development Camp has its roots in the development of scholastic talent. Iron Wood was established in 1989 to promote growth in the throwing events across the Pacific Northwest, and has grown to be the largest and most well known throws camp in the country. Campers come from such diverse areas as Guatemala and Alaska, as well as from all over the continental U.S.

"We had just 25 people attend the first camp (19 athletes and 6 coaches) which featured shot put and discus instruction in a three-day format," recalls co-founder Brad Rasmussen. "Over the next three years, we were able to add the javelin and expand into our current format of a 5-day camp. Although we were happy with our progress, we were also inspired by some advertisements for the USA Throwers Camp on the east coast which included such throwing legends as Al Oerter, Brian Oldfield, and Tom Putskys. I can recall [co-founder Tempelman] Bart saying, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could have someone famous like Mac Wilkins attend our camp?’, all the while thinking it would be a dream that would never come true. Well all I have to say now is that dreams have a funny way of working out when you put enough work into them... Bart contacted Mac and sold him on the idea of our camp and the rest, as they say, is history!"

So what has drawn over 1,500 campers to Iron Wood during its 11-year history? Elite athletes and coaches such as Jay Silvester, Wolfgang Schmidt, Ben Plucknett, Bill Godina (father of John), Rasmussen, Karin Smith, Colin and Lynne Anderson and Dawn Ellerbe were on the 1999 roster (Mac Wilkens was a last minute cancellation due to business commitments) help. And the celebrity talent is not around to just to shake hands. Each and everyone spends their days working with the athletes. When Schmidt offers in his German-inflected English, "Think about in da end, to bring the right hip forward", it bears some weight.

"What we’re most proud of is our commitment to a quality experience for all — whether they are just beginning their throwing career or entering their final year of competition," says Rasmussen. "Our low camper to coach ratio is aided greatly by a unique portable facilty design that allows us to provide over 20 separate throwing pads for both the discus and shot put groups. This allows us to accommodate 90-plus athletes at one time in each event. Our javelin and hammer groups have rarely surpassed 50 athletes at any one given session, but we provide them with ample space to operate as well."

Campers learn their respective events from the ground up, beginning with drill work based on standard teaching progressions. The more advanced campers tend to balk at covering these fundamentals, but this is often where the greatest gains are made. After a couple hours of standing throws and turning drills, the athletes are free to work on the finer aspects of their technique under the watchful eyes of the experts. The coaching staff rotates amongst the pads, giving campers multiple perspectives on their respective techniques.

Beyond honing their skills in their chosen events, campers have the opportunity to try out other events under the supervision of the excellent staff. Many of the campers come from states where the javelin and hammer are not contested. Campers are also exposed to throwers outside of their own counties and states, gaining a better perspective on their strengths and weak points, and how they stack up nationally.

The 1999 session moved to Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington after a ten year run at Northern Idaho College where Rasmussen coaches. Safety is a high priority at Iron Wood, with regimented procedures in place to minimize the risk of accidents. Coaches often attend Iron Wood with their athletes at a reduced rate. It is common for past campers to return as members of the coaching staff. And even though most of the campers are prep athletes, it is not exclusive in that regard. One camper at this year’s session had been away from the javelin for five years following her collegiate career, and came to camp to jump start her return.

Iron Wood Alumni include: one USA Olympian (Aretha Hill), three NCAA Champions (Casey Malone of Colorado State, Ryan Butler of Wyoming, and Corrisa Yasen of Purdue), 20 NCAA All-Americans (including the previous names as well as Justin Strand of Stanford, Ian Waltz of Washington State, Jarrod Rome of Boise State, Maureen Griffin of Arizona, and Karis Howell of Oregon). Iron Wood alumni have earned 18 Track & Field News HS All-American awards including top rankers: Waltz, Griffin, Lucais MacKay, Mandy Borschowa, and John Badovinac. Others in the rankings were Jill Camarena, Leslie Erickson, Mary Etter, Russ Milam, Mark Hoxmeier, and Rian Ingrim. In 1999, Iron Wood alumni won 30 individual state championships in 8 separate states (AK, CA, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY, UT).

The discus has always been Iron Wood’s signature event with guest speakers including a veritable who’s who of Olympic legends (Al Oerter, Mac Wilkins, L. Jay Silvester, Wolfgang Schmidt), American greats (Ben Plucknett, Lynne Anderson, Lacy Barnes Milheim, Melissa Weis) plus leading American coaches (Bill Godina, Scott Semar, Bob MacKay). Comments Rasmussen, "We’ve seen tremendous growth in our javelin and hammer groups the past few years, thanks to the great work of Karin Smith, Duncan Atwood, Lance Deal, Larry Judge, Dawn Ellerbe and others. We’re currently attempting to further strengthen our shot put area by adding a rotational shot legend to the excellent group that Colin Anderson runs in the glide shot. Balance and equal attention is a major part of our overall plans. Hopefully we’re not seen as a one-event specialty camp that pays minimal attention to the other events!"


The 2000 Iron Wood Throwers Development camp is set for July 2-7 Eastern Washington University once again. Bud Rasmussen can be reached via e-mail at Brasmuss@sd271.k12.id.us *LSTJ*