TABLE OF CONTENTS
Letter From The Editor
Training For The Javelin
At The Door
Lifts And Power Production
By Glenn Thompson
All throwers size up the
competition at a meet. If
there’s a strange face warming up with a physique that looks dangerous,
you can rest assured that everyone’s checking them out.
But even then, you can only see who they are as a thrower.
You don’t know a thing about who they are and what they are
This is even more true at the
Masters’ level. The
athletes come from all walks of life, and often are very successful in
their chosen field and personal lives.
Two shining examples are Paul
Ossman and Joe Johns. Aside
from turning age 50 next season, they are very high profile television
personalities in their own realms.
Paul Ossmann joined Atlanta’s
11Alive News in August of 1998 and serves as the station’s Chief
Meteorologist for the weekday broadcasts at the Atlanta NBC affiliate.
Ossman has worked in the Atlanta market
for 18 years with great success, having the charisma to serve as
the original host of Good Morning Atlanta.
Joe Johns became a fixture on
network television news in the 1990s as Capitol Hill correspondent for
NBC. His reports were seen on the “Today Show,” “Weekend Nightly
News” and other NBC news programs, as well as cable television on MSNBC
and the internet on MSNBC.com.
He currently works as CNN’s Capitol Hill correspondent and can be
seen frequently on Anderson Cooper 360 and other CNN broadcasts.
their great personal success, neither is overly impressed with himself and
both own self-deprecating senses of humor.
And they both love throwing.
Back In The Day
Ossman enjoyed the sport so much
he joined the Willingboro Track Club, run by Bill and Evelyn Lewis, the
parents of Carl and Carol Lewis. Bill
was Ossman’s assistant track coach at John F. Kennedy High.
The schools split his senior year, with a younger Carl going to
Willingboro High School.
Ossman’s collegiate career was
short and a mixed bag of frustration and joy.
“I got disillusioned by college track and field,” he recalls.
“The time was spent mostly on those quality athletes that could
score points in bigger meets, and not so much for those who still wanted
to learn. I lost 45 pounds my
freshman year, but accumulated enough points in the hammer throw to letter
at Ohio University. After my
last meet that year, I wouldn’t look at or pick up a shot put for the
next 28 years.”
So Ossman got on with his
Johns started throwing in junior
high school in Columbus, Ohio. He was hooked after winning the junior high
school city championship. He
attended West High School in Columbus and continued his winning ways
taking the State discus AAA championship in 1975.
His prep best was 180-1.
“My best measured foul was
187-8, a sector foul in the first competitive throw of my senior year.
I still remember seeing it drifting out of the sector and my
begging it to, ‘Come back, come back,’” Johns recalls as if it was
Johns accepted a scholarship to
Marshall University in West Virginia.
“To be completely honest with
you, back in the day, I was something of an athletic rabble rouser in
college, if you can imagine that,” recalls Johns.
“Coming to the university as a thrower, I felt there were some
sports one has to stand up and fight for, or they may lose out. Back then,
track and field was one such sport. I challenged the university in
those days to standup for so-called ‘non-revenue producing sports’ and
nearly transferred to another school over it, in part because my Marshall
track coach at the time, Rod Odonnell, was himself such an advocate
for the sport. But that is
another story. I only mention all of this to say there’s a
place in amateur athletics for people who speak out for their sports.”
Marshall was then a member of the
Southern Athletic Conference, including schools such as South Carolina,
VMI, William & Mary, the Citadel, Furman, Davidson, East Carolina.
Johns won Southern
Conference gold four times – twice indoors in the shot, once outdoors in
the shot, and once in the discus.
His best in the shot was 55-8 and 167-9 in the discus.
Johns double majored in government
(political science) and communications in college, but ended up graduating
with a degree in government only (political science) because,
“Communications got busted down to a last minute minor because I wanted
to get out of school!”
Hittin’ The Road
“I got a job doing the news on
the night shift for NBC’ affilliate WSAZ-TV in Charleston, WV.
And when I did finally graduate, I did my own little cost-benefit
analysis and figured, “Hey I’ve already launched on a career path, why
not stick it out for a while?”
From Charleston, Johns went to
WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC, and in 1983 he moved to WRC-TV, the NBC-owned
station in Washington. In
1993 he made the move from affiliate to the networks, signing on with NBC
News as a Capitol Hill correspondent.
Johns moved to CNN in 2003.
“I was originally assigned as a Congressional Correspondent for
the full CNN Network, but now, I’m essentially a Congressional
Correspondent assigned to ‘AC 360,’ the Anderson Cooper show,” he
says. “I’m mainly doing
government accountability reporting now, which follows paper trails,
government spending, corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.”
“I had a very round about way to
get into the news biz’” recalls Ossman.
“My degree is in Clinical Psychology.
But I knew shortly after graduating that I would not be making a
career in the field. I
instead kept believing that maybe I could find a career as rewarding as my
high school shot putting days.”
Ossman started Graduate School at
Rider College in New Jersey and found out there that he was in the wrong
field. One of the professors
suggested a career in sales/marketing or radio/TV.
That was the spark that turned on the light.
Shortly after this, Ossman left grad school behind to explore the
world of radio and television.
His next step was the American
Academy of Broadcasting in Philadelphia.
He was 24 years old in a class where the average age was 18.
The school had a job placement service, but students had to be
willing to move and work in small market radio stations.
Ossman was focused and ready.
His first job was in the small
West Texas burg of Lamesa at a 250-watt daytime radio station.
“The broadcast signal was weaker than my Mr. Microphone I got in
1972,” laughs Ossman. “I
gave up Springsteen and the Sound of Philadelphia for the country twangs
of Bill Wills and Ferlin Huskey.
But I was a paid professional and on my way.
Lamesa gave way to my first television job in Abilene, Texas.
A year and half later I was the main weather anchor in Montgomery,
Alabama. Nine months later I
was in Birmingham. Then
18 months later I was hired at the CBS station in Atlanta.
I have worked in Atlanta since 1988.”
After getting to Atlanta, Ossman
went back to school to study Meteorology at Mississippi State in their
correspondence program designed for distance learning.
He took enough classes to supplement his work experience and earn a
seal of approval from the National Weather Association.
“Being our main weathercaster at
the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, I take my job seriously.
There are times when people’s lives are at stake during severe
weather. And there are times
when I get to showcase my personality.
In other words, be myself.”
“When people meet me, it is
great when they say that I am approachable and am the same in person as I
am on the tube. That is the
biggest compliment I think a television personality can receive.
I always keep that in mind: be yourself.
Not everyone is going to like you, that’s just life.
But you can’t have a ‘put on’ personality on the air.
People can usually sniff those types out very quickly.”
Ossman gets to work around 3pm and
leaves close to midnight. In
between there are meetings, forecasting, making graphics for weather
reports for the 6pm, 7pm and 11pm shows.
And yes, he gets his makeup done by a makeup artist around 4pm each
day. Then he gets changed for
the show and/or any promotional commercials prior to 6pm.
When there is severe weather like
storms and tornadoes, it boosts his workload.
“Reporting on breaking weather news is a rush, like the fireman
fighting the fire, like having that big throw at the right time (haven’t
had that yet, but hoping),” he says.
“It really tests your skills of communication and coolness when
you have to relay that information to thousands that count on your
“I love my job,” he gushes.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t enjoy going to
work. Like any job some
days are more enjoyable than most. And
it isn’t all mirrors and makeup, although mirrors and makeup are a part
of my daily routine.”
“It’s a career many dream
about, but few get to do on a daily basis.
I am one of the lucky ones. Hopefully
I will be in the biz for many years to come.”
Ossman laughs when talking about
visits to the makeup counter in stores, and his wife needs to inform the
sales associate, “It’s
for my husband.”
Another great thing about
Ossman’s job is access to celebrities he’s
enjoyed or admired. “The
older I get, the more I realize that they are just people, and in some
cases just kids with money.”
For six years at the Fox station
across town in Atlanta, Ossman co-hosted a morning talk show and got to
meet some very interesting people, including Mickey Mantle, Jennifer
Holliday, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Spike Lee.
And the list goes on.
In fact, Ossman has interviewed
more than a thousand celebrities. “My
favorites are the ones that seem real, and don’t need a slew of
bodyguards to prove that they are special,” he says.
“They are cordial and know that we (the media) are just trying to
do our jobs. With that said,
some of my favorites include Alan Sheppard (first American in space), Tom
Hanks (great sense of humor, met him on a press junket for Saving
Private Ryan), Jennifer Holliday (she sang “I am Changing”, I
cried) , Geraldo Rivera (he was invited to my wedding), Brooke Shields
(she remembers names), Muhammad
Ali (I was so nervous meeting him; he was a boyhood idol),
Paul McCartney (met him in the press room in 1994 before a concert
at the Georgia Dome), and eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.
Lee is a good friend, and truly epitomizes what a celebrity should
be. He is direct, personal,
smiles, has a great laugh and a great family man.”
“One of my more disappointing
experiences occurred on the set of the sitcom “Friends.”
I guess I expected them to be more interested, and on the whole
they weren’t. Athletes can
be tricky. Most are kids with money.
Some of these athletes love entourages, even before they score
their first touchdown in the NFL. Never
could understand that.”
Ultimately Ossman’s vocation
resurrected his avocation.
Back In The Game
“Godina and Reese tossed close
to 70 feet. Then Cantwell hit
one that measured 73 feet. Are
you kidding me? I remember Al
Feuerbach reaching 71-7 and thinking that was incredible.
Then Adam tosses one that later measured more than 74 feet, but was
a foot foul. The sport had
left me behind. I didn’t
know these people and these distances in one meet were something I had
never seen before. The one
thing I did know is that I missed the sport and the training.”
Taking matters into his own hands,
Ossman talked with University of Georgia throws coach Don Babbitt to
inquire about watching Adam and Reese train one day.
Ossman lives an hour-and-a-half away from Athens, but it was well
worth the drive.
“Arriving at the track, I
noticed that Reese and Adam were alone throwing in the shot put area,”
recalls Ossman. “Here are two of the best putters in the world, and they
train and throw in relative anonymity.
I remember as a boy the stir Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier used to
create when they were seen in Philadelphia on the same street. Crowds would follow them; it would make the papers, and the
evening news. When these two
throw in Athens, there are no crowds and no press.”
“While watching them throw and
train, Adam said to me, ‘Well are you going to throw?’” Ossman
recalls. “I didn’t have
my throwing stuff with me, but did some throws with what I had on.
Gradually, I worked up to training with the big boys and Coach
Babbitt at least once a week during my throwing season.
I starting entering local meets and was once again hooked into the
Ossman’s return to competition
at the 2004 Georgia State Games resulted in victory.
“I recall my wife Faith saying, ‘When did you learn to do
this?’ My wife was 10 when I stopped throwing the shot in college.
So she had no knowledge of my sports past and what was to come.”
One thing throwing did for Ossman
was give his training focus. “Instead
of spinning my wheels with what do I need to do, how many reps, cardio,
etc., I was able to gear my training toward my event,” he says.
“Adam Nelson, who I truly call a friend, among other things (!),
suggested a few off season training regimens that were a big help.
Access to pros like Adam and Don Babbitt is immeasurable.”
To enhance his focus, Ossman
became a Certified Fitness Trainer. “I
am my biggest and only client,” he says laughingly.
“The more knowledge, the better athlete and person I can become.
I wish I had learned some of this stuff when I was in my twenties
and thirties, but then again it makes getting older a bit easier, don’t
“I think it’s important to
have a passion, a hobby, that is away from what you do professionally.
I think it adds that balance that makes life fun,” states the
father of two boys, Grant, age 10, and Parker, age 9.
“Now my family watches me throw.
Nothing like the sound of ‘Come on daddy’ coming from your
Ossman is frequently asked,
“What is it like to throw with Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa?
You must learn a lot!”
His standard reply is, “Well
yes, I know exactly where the 70 foot mark is and how to rub chalk on my
Nelson and Ossman have become
friends to the extent they talk about life as much as the shot putting.
“He is a study in the complete shot putter,” Ossman says of
Nelson. “Committed to
excellence, with an emphasis on the correct balance of strength,
flexibility, nutrition and performance in the ring.
I keep that in mind when I have trouble touching my toes in the
morning. He has also
experienced the extremes in the sport, and that makes what he has to say
more credible for sure.”
“Thrower’s guru Don Babbitt
has been a great help, too,” continues Ossman.
“During his time watching Adam and Reese, Don has always had
advice to help this old shot putter try to turn into a spinner.
It’s been a long and slow process, but to Don’s credit he never
once suggested for me to take a closer look at competing in something less
challenging, like dominoes on
“I really enjoy competing at my
age, and looking forward to it for years to come.
I have made some new friends, and enjoy watching others my age and
older set no limits on their abilities.”
“In the year or so after
college, I did throw in a couple meets,” says Johns.
“My best post-college throw in the shot put was 52’0”.
My best in the discus right out of college was something like
150-55 I think. My work really made it impossible to train in the
early years—and so from 1981 to about 1985 or so, I didn’t throw.”
“Then NBC started a corporate
track team, and I got back into it. It was a great thrill for me because I
missed competing so much. So it was the US Corporate Athletic
Association (USCAA) that got me going again. It’s just a fantastic
organization that puts on meets every year.”
Johns best in the USCAA meets is
49’6” and his best in the discus is approximately 148’.
Johns’ busy schedule makes time
to work out a big issue. The
biggest time crunch came when he decided to go to law school from 1998
through 2002. He had approximately 70-80 pages of dense reading and
case briefing to do virtually every night.
If he had too much to do in a day, the workouts were what suffered
“I still have a lot of
difficulty getting into a regular training routine because of the travel
and crazy hours associated with my job,” he says.
“I’m extremely inconsistent as a thrower- I think because my
training is inconsistent. I also came to the sport during the time
when people started converting from the glide to the spin in the shot. So
I practiced both. In college, I was pretty consistently, but not always, a
glider. But these days, sometimes I’m not feeling the glide, then the
spin works and vice versa. I’m pretty sure that if I worked out
and threw consistently, I’d do nothing but spin, but I don’t.”
“These days, if I get into the
44 foot range in the shot (16 lbs.) I’m doing pretty good for me, which
is frustrating,” continues Johns. “In
the disc I get great practice throws (when I practice) and a lot of sector
fouls. But the 120’s to about 135’ is the best I’ve done in a meet
over the last few years. I was consistently in the 130’s at least
until I had shoulder surgery in December 2004. That has affected my
throwing. The operation was on my non-throwing shoulder, but for a long
time after, it was hard to get a good pull because of pain, spasms and
general weakness that only recently subsided. My doctor told me it
could take years to get going again and I’m on track I think. Fact
is, the throwing was what caused the problem in the first place. Excuses,
yes. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
“Throwing is now my excuse to
try to stay in shape,” says Johns.
“It motivates me and keeps up the intensity in my lifting and
running. Like many throwers who may have also participated in other
sports like football and basketball, it’s hard for me to get the
adrenaline and intensity going for a workout unless there is an underlying
competitive goal. My goal is to keep throwing competitively. After all, I
suck at golf.”
“I work out to throw,” Johns
continues. “In high school
and college I didn’t win throwing events because I was stronger than
everyone else. I won, when I won, because of a speed/power combination. So
when I train to this day, I have to run and lift.
I have to do sprints, and even some distance, plus the Olympic
lifts, or some combination thereof, if I want to reach goals in meets.
This helps me keep in shape. I
have two kids now, so when I work out I have to figure out how to include
them. For example, we have a jogging stroller. When I go running, I take
my son along for the ride.”
“I know I am going to get much
better in my event,” Ossman says. “I
am still learning. What a
great thing to say at the age of 49!
Now it’s just a matter of how much work am I willing to put in to
reach my goals. I do know that I am really looking forward to the
weight of the shot to come down to 6K (he turns 50 on June 18, 2007).
What I will do now is concentrate on the technical more so than
strength. That is where the
biggest growth will be in the coming years.
What is great about my situation is that I am still learning and I
have a lot of potential left. Most people I compete against have their technique and
I envy them. Just makes me
work that harder to get my act together.”
Both men are shining examples of
the good in Masters throwing. They’re
successful professionally and athletically.