Senior thrower’s goal: have fun, finish happy

SOECharlesHallmansquareThere are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2014-15 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players

This week: Gopher senior thrower Devin Stanford

Devin Stanford with a photo of herself in action
Devin Stanford with a photo of herself in action

Her goals include “improving my finish” in this, her final collegiate season, and senior thrower Devin Stanford is halfway to her objective. The redshirt senior from Milwaukee, Wis. took third in the weight throw during last month’s Big Ten indoor championships, but that wasn’t enough to advance to this week’s NCAA indoor championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

“Just continuing to be positive while doing it, and go out there and see what happens,” said the redshirt senior from Milwaukee, Wis. on her goals going forward.

During an earlier MSR interview, Stanford explained the difference in throwing the hammer and discus in college, and the shot put, which she did in high school. “Everybody thinks they are similar, and they are. [But] the difference is the weight — the hammer is heavier.”

Stanford admitted that throwing wasn’t her original intent when she went out for high school track. “I thought I was destined to run the 200,” she recalled.

“But my high school coaches had a different plan for me. I started throwing as a freshman, and I hated it. [I thought,] this is so boring.

“But when I came to college, throwing was cool and everybody was getting so excited and pumped up,” continued Stanford. Now, “It’s fun to throw, and I want to just go out there and try it and see what I can do.”

Track and field isn’t an occasional sport for Blacks, but we asked Stanford if it isn’t rare for her to see sistah throwers. “Other schools have them. There’s two [soph Nicolle Murphy and junior Ke-ke Burks] besides me on the team. It’s not unusual,” noted Stanford.

Their training regimen includes weight lifting: “We love moving big weights. Then we take a lot of reps, and we throw a lot, then break things down and do drills.” The heavy weights also help with technique, she added.

When not throwing, Stanford collects Barbie dolls: “I have all holiday Barbies. My dad is from Barbados, so I have one from Barbados. I have an old-fashioned classic Barbie — I really like her because she has a cool style.”

Stanford expects to graduate this spring with a double major in elementary education and Spanish. It doesn’t seem to her that long ago when she arrived on the Minnesota campus from her hometown Milwaukee.

“Oh my gosh, where has all the time gone?” she said smiling. “Looking back, I was so homesick as a freshman. I wanted to go home all the time.”

After recording the Gophers’ top five throws of the indoor season and finishing as the third-best in school history, Stanford now is setting her sights on the upcoming outdoor season. Last spring, she was named all-American and all-Big Ten second team, finishing 15th in the hammer throw at the NCAAs.

“I can’t believe this is my last season. I want to go out there, do my very best, and see how far I can take this thing,” pledged Stanford. Then it’s off to the real world.

“I am going to graduate and start a job next fall” in Milwaukee, a two-year commitment with Teach for America, said a proud Stanford. “I want to be a teacher. I want to have Spanish as a background just in case there’s parents who only speak Spanish. I want to reach as many communities as I can as a teacher.”

“It’s exciting, but it’s kind of scary — I don’t want to leave,” concluded Stanford. “This is my last year and I want to have fun and hopefully finish happy.”

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.