When transfer student Tiffany Dampier first came out for track at Seventy-First High School, coach Jay Jackson wanted to make her into a runner.
“Just looking at her, she looked like a runner,’’ said Jackson, a 2001 Seventy- First graduate. “I didn’t know she did field events.’’ He soon learned she did them exceptionally well.
Dampier, a sophomore who came to Seventy-First from El Paso, Texas, was the only winner of two individual events, male or female, in the 20th annual William Carver Invitational Track Meet held recently at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium.
Dampier, who has been competing in the shot put and the discus since she was in eighth grade, won the shot with a throw of 35 feet, 1.5 inches, a personal best.
Her winning throw in the discus was 113-2.5.
Jackson said his strength in coaching track and field is in the running events, so with the field events like shot and discus, he tries to focus on making sure his athletes have the right form and that they have fun.
“She needs to have fun,’’ Jackson said. “She’s real hard on herself. Once she started having fun, she started increasing her throws every week.’’
Dampier said a coach in El Paso first introduced her to both the shot and the discus. She finds the shot more of a relaxing event, although adding it requires her to focus.
Dampier thinks she can have fun and be serious about the sport at the same time. “My seriousness comes from my dedication and leadership in the sport,’’ she said. “Not only can we have fun, we can put in the work too.’’
Her favorite event is the discus, which she describes as being more free-flowing. She feels there’s more pressure in the shot because you throw it a shorter distance and there’s more weight involved.
She doesn’t think athletes who compete in shot and discus can be placed in any particular body type. “Not all throwers have a particular size or appearance,’’ she said. “I’ve been with girls who were taller and skinnier. I don’t take it personally.’’
Jackson said Dampier’s performance in the shot at the Carver meet was a surprise because it was her personal best. He thinks she has a shot to be competitive at the state and regional levels in both events, but he feels her best chance of winning will be in the discus.
“If she has fun, she’s going to win,’’ he said.
Dampier thinks she’s got a fair chance, but she’s not trying to get her expectations up too high. “There are different divisions and competition I haven’t seen,’’ she said. “I’m going to keep pushing myself and continue to enjoy the sport.’’
Photo: Tiffany Dampier