Going the distance: Senior shot put competitor advances to state, earns fifth

Star Salter

Since this article was written, senior Chassidy Rusk has gone on to win 5th place at the state meet with a throw of 40’3”.

Up stairs. Down stairs. Wind sprints. Exhausting work for any athlete, but an average day for senior Chassidy Rusk. Though she doesn’t run in any track events, she is a part of the shot put team and it’s much more than hurling an 8.8 lb. steel ball down the field.

“It is an exciting event to see, especially when you have a talented student-athlete like Chassidy to watch,” track coach Jennifer Pittman said.

Chassidy has been inspired by her family and wanted to make them proud, especially her godparents who enjoy the event.

“It runs in the family, Chassidy said. My aunts did shot put in high school, and they were really good at it,” Chassidy said. “My aunt actually won the state meet when she was in high school, and my godparents are really big on it too.”

Throwing a personal best during an invitational meet, Chassidy has continued to improve this year.

“I threw my longest of 42’3” at the Temple meet,” Chassidy said. “The record at Bryan High is 48 so it’s far from what I’m at right now. I just want to keep beating myself in every meet. My goal right now is to improve.”

Her coaches continue to work with her and push her to keep achieving her goals.

“Chassidy has grown tremendously throughout her career and has improved her throwing by 8.5 feet since freshmen year in shot put,” Pittman said, “Hopefully, she can add another 2 feet before the season is over.”

Chassidy is a leader on the team and serves as an example to others teammates. “Chassidy is older than all of us and she has more experience in track,” junior teammate Jennyfer Tucker said. “She knows more of what she’s doing, what we need to do and if we’re doing something wrong she’ll show us how to do it. She’s like another coach and she helps the coaches motivate us.”

While dominating the shot put event this year, Chassidy has continued to stay level headed as she pushes to get better at each meet.

“What separates her is that she’s quiet and reserved,” Pittman said. “Chassidy is humble about her talents and abilities, but she is extremely competitive in nature as well, which is a rare combination.”

Chassidy stays focused on her goals so when she does face a setback, she is able to continue moving forward.

“Sometimes you’re not going to get the outcome that you want,” Chassidy said, “but that doesn’t mean you stop there and don’t keep trying. You have to work hard for everything you get in life and you can’t settle for anything. I could’ve settled for 39’ or 40’, but I wanted to keep pushing harder and harder. You have to keep going, because you never know how good you can be untill you keep pushing yourself to be the best.”

Even though shot put is an individual event, there is always a strong support system of people behind Chassidy at each meet.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m not good enough or I don’t work hard enough but my teammates and coaches keep pushing me and encouraging me to get better,” Chassidy said. “It helps me continue to work hard and strive to be the best I can be in whatever I participate.”

Sometimes coaches equally as invested in a competition as the athlete and experience the same joy that comes with victory.

“When I threw the 42’ Coach Pittman and Coach Beal were jumping and hollering like cheerleaders,” Chassidy said. “I swear Coach Beal did a toe touch, and Coach Pittman did a backflip. It was so great to see how happy they were to see my success,” Chassidy said.

Teammates agree with how the coaches view Chassidy in that she is always focused, but never arrogant when it comes to competition.

“Chassidy’s one of the only students that does shot put so that makes her different,” Jennyfer said. “She is very competitive, but she’s not really out there bragging about it like some people do. Chassidy doesn’t brag; she’s not cocky about her successes.”

Since Chassidy is graduating this year and knows she won’t be with her teammates anymore she wants to leave an impact on students that are new to shot put.

“I’m definitely going to miss the environment, and I always like to see the newcomers come in and see how great the track team can be, because people don’t really consider track to be a big sport at the schools,” Chassidy said. “It’s always amazing to watch people come in with low standards and leave with high ones. That’s something I’m going to miss.”

Chassidy has a gift for shot putting, love for others, and kindness that her teammates love and adore that makes a difference when they win and lose.

“Chassidy is really motivating,” Jennyfer said. “She has a good sense of humor and whenever we mess up she’ll say something encouraging, but it’s really funny so it makes us feel better and makes it feel like it’s not as bad as it is.”

Chassidy doesn’t know what lies ahead of her life, but she’ll follow whatever path God puts her on.

“If God blesses me to play after high school I will, but if not, I enjoyed it while it lasted in high school and middle school,” Chassidy said.