Warriors throwers and assistant coach work together
Brianna Wakefield bends her knees and begins to step back and forth, discus in her hand. The Del Norte senior thrower takes one, two, three steps and launches...
A decent throw, maybe 65 feet out. Not up to her capabilities. But this is a Tuesday practice; no need to go all-out.
"Loosen up your shoulders," Doug Wakefield says. Breanna's father doubles as Del Norte's assistant track coach, in charge of the shot put and the discus. "When you're relaxed, you throw better."
As Brianna Wakefield works out the kinks in her shoulders, sophomore
Kira Standring waits out in the tall grass as the designated retriever.
Senior Morgan Laney stands near the discus ring, awaiting her turn.
It's a more intimate practice, with the season nearing its conclusion
and a traditionally small number of interested parties. Nevertheless,
Doug Wakefield can apply hands-on training as needed.
"It's probably the most fun of all the years for me," he says. "I
don't have to split time between events. I stay with the throwers for
the most part."
Wakefield is one of three assistant coaches that work with head coach
Samuel Escobar and the Del Norte track and field teams. Fred Victor
assists the Warriors' long and triple jumpers, while George Hartman
works with the Warriors' distance runners and high jumpers.
"What's nice is that they're out there on a daily basis," Escobar
says. "The kids appreciate the individual attention. It's hard for one
or two people to (give them) that."
Wakefield originally owned Price Striping, a highway striping
company. When he sold it in April 2006, he volunteered to work with the
Del Norte track team.
He had never participated in throwing events during his athletic days
but he soaked up as much as he could. YouTube videos, Internet
information and coaches' clinics and camps helped him brush up on the
technical aspects of throws.
Wakefield admits to having grown as a coach along with his athletes
in many respects. Practices, then, become a lesson in improvement by
committee, the coach offering up what he sees and suggestions for
improvements and the athletes responding in kind.
Brianna Wakefield was introduced to throwing events by her father as a
high school freshman and has grown to enjoy them. She has no qualms
about being coached by her father.
"There's never been a fight between us," she says with a laugh.
"Dad's an awesome coach. He wants to see you improve. He treats us like
"The kids are going to be more respectful with someone's dad than with a coach," Escobar says.
Brianna Wakefield took third place in the shot put (29 feet, 5.5
inches) and fourth place in the discus (84 feet, 0.5 inches) at last
week's Humboldt-Del Norte All-County Meet in Fortuna. The discus throw
was a personal record; her personal-best shot put throw of 31-8 came
back in March, at the Brookings-Harbor Icebreaker meet.
"Bri came out gangbusters," Doug Wakefield says. "She's had some good
days and some bad days (since then) - she's definitely been
Laney, who will join the Sacramento State track and field team next
season, racked up two personal bests in Fortuna, throwing the discus
103-5 (third place) and putting the shot 39-6. Her shot put mark broke
the school record by two inches and won the league championship.
"It was nice to finally break it," Laney says of the school record.
"I tried not to focus on it too much. I knew that I could do it, and
I wanted to do it at White Star [the All-County Meet].
"I'm just now starting to get decent at discus. I'm just now feeling
what it's like to have a good throw. (The personal-best throw) felt
Standring has primarily served as understudy to the two senior
throwers this season, but she has improved in the shot put by two feet
and the discus by six feet, with room to grow.
"Kira's gotten a lot better," Doug Wakefield says. "Her form is going
to be helpful to girls coming in next year. The seniors are
demonstrators. It helps kids a lot; they can pick it up faster (watching
"It's not something old guys can demonstrate," he adds with a grin.
Up next for Del Norte is the North Coast Section/Les Schwab Redwood
Empire Area Championships, known colloquially as Redwood Empire. Team
score will be kept, but individual placement is paramount - the top
seven in each event will automatically qualify for the North Coast
Section Meet of Champions, the last step before the California
Interscholastic Federation State Meet.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.