Laddie Trees ’11 broke his own school record of 166.5 feet by throwing 196 feet, just five feet shy of the New England record on April 10, 2010.
Last spring, in his first-ever track season, Trees was chosen on a whim to fill a vacant position in the javelin throw.
In only two throws, Trees stunned his coaches, teammates, and many others as his newly-discovered talent took flight.
“The first [throw] was a flop,” said Trees, “but the second one was about 140 feet.”
Without any formal technique training and with only a few practice throws, Trees had already qualified for the New England championship by throwing over 120 feet.
“That just doesn’t happen,” said javelin coach Conrad Pitcher.
“The guys who throw that distance have been throwing for five or six years.”
Mr. Pitcher and Co-coach Mark Ott acknowledge Trees’ athleticism as the reason he has had such success in such a small amount of time.
“He has a unique combination of flexibility, quickness, and strength,” said Dr. Ott, “and he instinctually has the right form.”
“He’s about as natural a javelin thrower as you can find,” added Mr. Pitcher.
Trees’ natural throwing ability has been tested before. He played baseball for much of his life, sometimes playing pitcher—although he admits he had some “accuracy problems.”
With further instruction on javelin technique over his first season, along with his natural talent, Trees was able to throw 166.5 feet at the New England championship meet on May 15, 2009 —enough to land him second place in New England and claim the school record.
This year, “I’m throwing even farther,” says Trees. “I hope I have a shot [at winning the New England championship] since I didn’t lose by much last year.”
Aside from significant individual achievements, Trees’ presence on the team has also been a catalyst for a stronger overall javelin program.
“Laddie is a great teacher; he has a great attitude and he always tries to help [his teammates],” said Dr. Ott. “His attitude has drawn in more people to throw the javelin.”
Dr. Ott said that javelin throwers, Rico Welch ’10 and Rajab Curtis ’12 often “try to compete with Laddie,” and have improved and may score significant points for the team this year greatly because of Trees’ presence.
As the new track and field season kicks off, Trees is also trying his hand at long jumping, hurdling, and pole-vaulting. There is no telling if Trees will have a similar influence on these other events, but as Dr. Ott put it, “he’s going to be fun to watch.”