, 2009


Rome Olympic Shot Champion

Dave Dumble is building a desert dynasty

Rachel Yurkovich stayed in-state to pursue her dream

Rediscovering the Olympic lifts

For the strength athlete

Increasing strength and power

A pupil’s perspective

An interview with Anatoly Bondarchuk

Lining up the javelin

Sharing his love for the spear

From around the throwing world

Investing in the next generation


By Joe Napoli

Editor’s Note: I asked Joe Napoli, the founder and coach of the World’s Longest Throws Club (NJ) to give Long & Strong a glimpse into the impressive work his youth throws club is doing. My hope is that it will inspire readers to follow in his footsteps.

It all started back in 2004 when my daughter Brittany joined the track and field team at Howell High School. Howell, like so many other schools, had coaches that cared and wanted to succeed but did not know much about the throws. Seeing this gave me the idea that if I was going to train my daughter, I would also train her teammates as well. Upon the approval of the coach and school administration, I started to volunteer my time to help develop a throws program. As the season went on and the program started to develop, the kids began to make great progress and gain recognition throughout the state. At the school season’s end, Brittany was starting to show promise in the javelin so I took her to a clinic that, long-time friend, Tom Petranoff (President of the Worlds Longest Throw Club (WLTC)), was having in Rhode Island. After spending time with Tom reminiscing, analyzing technique and talking throws, he encouraged me to take my knowledge and passion and form a club of my own and so the "Worlds Longest Throw Club-NJ" was born. In just 3 years the WLTC-NJ has grown tremendously and I have produced 1 National Scholastic shot put champion, 7 USATF All-Americans, qualified 19 for Youth National championships and I have sent many on to compete at the college level. I am proud to say that my daughter now attends the University of Tennessee and throws the javelin for Lady Vols Throws Coach John Frazier.

My Background
I attended St. Peter’s Boys High School (1977-1981) which is a small Christian Brothers school located in Staten Island, a borough of New York City. After not making the school baseball team as a freshman, I decided to give the throws a whirl. I knew we had very good coaches (Ed Gorman, Dave Jakubowski and Carmine Ragucci) and that St. Peters had been a dominant force in track and field in the past. I immediately fell in love with a sport that I never knew existed; I was hooked. My success was largely due to the fact that we had coaches that cared and gave us the attention and direction needed for us to be successful. They constantly instilled in us that without hard work, dedication and mutual respect, what they taught us would be meaningless. They also gave us the exposure we needed by entering us in top competitions and sending us to the best throws clinicians (Tony Naclerio) around.

By our senior year my teammates (Sal Della Croce, Tom Salzano) and I dominated the east coast, and Sal and I were ranked nationally in both shot and discus. Della Croce (63’/175’), Napoli (60’/180’), Salzano (56’/145’) - needless to say, we had very intimidating 2 and 3-man relays. We also had 3 others over 50’ in the shot. Yes, it’s great to win school championships, individual titles and break records, but what I will remember the most and the major factor that impacted my career from my high school days, is the stuff people do not see. The tireless training we did both before and after school, the constant technical drilling and the confidence that our coaches had in us to succeed.

I was recruited by several Division I schools offering full scholarships, but ultimately chose Kent State University to continue my throwing career. I immediately made a connection with the coaches (Orin Richburg, Al Schoterman) and knew that KSU could give me what I was looking for. Under the tutelage of throws coach Schoterman (‘72 Olympian, NCAA champion in the hammer), I went on to capture 4 Mid American Conference titles (3 Discus, 1 Shot put) and had personal best throws of 57’-11"/185’-4" at KSU. Because of my athleticism, I was also called upon to help score points for the team in the hammer (185’-0"), 35lb weight (59’-10") and javelin (207’-11"). We were also very fortunate to have many top athletes come train with us, especially Kent alum Jud Logan. Jud went on to become a four-time Olympian and American Record holder in the hammer, and helped to give us a sense of what it would be like to compete at the next level. As you can see, it has become somewhat evident that I have been blessed to have had such inspirational people in my life. My program is built around all I have experienced and learned during my 30 years as a thrower. Now I can pass it on as a coach.

The Club
I encourage my athletes to at least try all the events: shot, disc, javelin, hammer and weight. It really is lots of fun and it also gives them a better understanding of who they are as a thrower. Because of our conditioning program, it is much easier for them to understand different techniques and for me as a coach to get my point across. Building athleticism is key to the success in becoming an accomplished all-around thrower. As kids mature they will have a tendency to gravitate towards certain events and start to specialize. So introducing all events at a young age not only makes them more athletic but also more marketable to colleges and universities if they so choose to take it that far.

The club was designed and structured so kids could train on a regular basis and attend USATF Junior Olympic and open competitions throughout the summer months. The summer season is the heart of the club and we train from the middle of May to the end of July. With over 25 kids in the program, I want to give them as much individual attention as possible so I break up the training into smaller groups based upon event and skill level. Each group meets 2-3 times per week, and we work on conditioning for the throws as well as lots of throwing and technical drills. Each group throws training session is 3 hours long (shot/discus/javelin) and consists of throwing and technical drills both in and out of the circle and on the runway. Hammer training is always held on separate days, and only for those that are committed to the event. Conditioning training sessions are 2 hours long and we meet once per week as a team. These conditioning sessions include: 2 lap warm-up run; stretching, both static and dynamic; plyometric routine; medicine ball circuit; box and hurdle jumps; agility and body awareness drills; weighted explosion and power exercises and finally speed work. Weight lifting and strength training exercises are done on off days when their throws groups do not meet. Because of the success we’ve had with the summer program and the athlete’s eagerness to keep learning and growing athletically, I began to have training sessions on the weekends beyond my regular summer schedule.

Most athletes I train range in age from 13-18, but I also have others at the college level, and even Masters. Although I love to train athletes of all ages I think the best time to start preparing for the throws is in junior high school. At this age we must educate our youth and start building athleticism. Body awareness and learning how their bodies work and move in motion are by far the most important factors. Fitness testing must also be an integral part of a successful training program. Athletes need to learn the importance of challenging themselves through a variety of different tests that must be preformed on a regular basis.

Examples: Standing Long Jump; Standing Vertical Jump; Standing Triple Jump; Standing 3 & 5 Hop; 30m sprint forward/backward; Medicine Ball throws; Underhand forward; Overhead backward; 2 hand chest. How can we expect young athletes to throw heavy implements when they do not even know what their bodies are capable of achieving? Once some type of athleticism is mastered, technique can now be introduced and worked into the program.

The club does not receive any funding or sponsorships; however, I do charge a nominal membership fee. Club members are also responsible for their own entry fees and any travel/lodging expenses. Since the WLTC-NJ is sanctioned by USATF, all athletes must be USATF members.

The Future of Youth Throwing
The amount of inquiries I get from parents and athletes all over New Jersey and New York looking for throws clubs is amazing. If this is any indication of what athletes want, I think the outlook for our youth in this country in the throws is positive. This past summer I had 25 athletes in my summer program and had to turn down more than 30 others. It is so frustrating for me to turn down anyone, especially when they want to learn, but I am only one person and it would not be fair for those already in the program. There is a definite thirst for knowledge and good coaching in the throws, and it truly hurts me to go to high school track events and see many would-be potentially great throwers without the proper skills needed to excel. There are so many great resources out there for coaches to help athletes and the National Throws Coaches Association is one of them. The NTCA is an organization dedicated to promoting the throwing events at all levels of instruction and competition. It was founded by Rob Lasorsa in 2002 with approx 100 members and has grown to more than 6,000. The NTCA annually hosts a throws conference in which coaches and athletes come together to learn and network. It also honors those individuals who have served the throwing events in an extraordinary manner in their careers as either a coach or athlete.

Let me start by saying that the WLTC-NJ was designed so young throwers could experience what it’s like to be part of a structured program that will challenge them mentally, physically and in all aspects of the throws. From my experiences…without structure…a program and its athletes are doomed to fail. I believe that training athletes of different athletic abilities at times has a tendency to humble the elite and excite the beginner. We must constantly remind our elite never to forget what got them to this point in their careers and for our beginners to think about what opportunities could possibly be in store for them. We must instill in our youth the infectious passion we have as throws coaches. We must let our athletes know that we will always be there for them, but it is only through their hard work, dedication and constant effort that result will come. As coaches we must never stop learning nor should we be too proud to ask others for help. We must flood our minds and gain knowledge by networking with other coaches, joining clubs and associations, subscribing to magazines and periodicals, and surfing the internet in which all this has played a major role in my coaching success. Glen Thompson, editor of this periodical, has done an outstanding job in bringing us all such valuable information and intuitive foresight.

I have been very fortunate in my life to have had so many extremely knowledgeable and caring coaches that helped mold me into the person I am today and now it’s my turn to give back what was thrust upon me. Thank you all.

For more information, you can contact Joe Napoli and the Worlds Longest Throw Club-NJ via their website at: www.wltcnj.com. You can learn more abou the NTCA at:

www.nationalthrowscoachesassociation.com *L&S*