West Linn's Makayla Long boosts shot put, discus skills with Super Thrower Club
West Linn's Makayla Long wants to be the best.
She wants to compete, she wants to work, she wants to be, well, super.
With that in mind, Long — an incoming junior at West Linn High School — has been spending part of her summer at coach Scott Skipper's Super Thrower Track Club in Oregon City.
The club caters to track and field athletes with a passion for the throwing events — shot put, discus, javelin, hammer and weight — and who come from as far away as Eugene, Lincoln City, Hood River, Everett, Washington, and all points in between.
Long — who finished second in the Class 6A discus and third in the javelin in 2019 — said she connected with Skipper and his club after seeing him work with other throwers at Three Rivers League meets during the 2019 spring season. She ended up joining the Super Thrower Club near the end of her sophomore season with the Lions.
"I saw (he was) coaching a bunch of other kids and I was like, 'Oh. Do you throw for him, too?'" Long said. "They were all like, 'Yeah,' and these were kids whose results were pretty darned good so I figured he knew what he was doing.
"I didn't realize it was this big of a club, but I knew that all of his throwers were pretty darn successful, so I figured his club was a good place to go."
Long, runner-up to Oregon City's Anessa Chirgwin in the discus at the state track and field meet, has worked with Skipper for about two months, beginning when STTC hosted an all-comers meet on July 12 at Clackamas Community College.
Long won the 17-18 girls discus with a personal-best throw of 151 feet, 9 inches, breaking her previous PR of 145-7, set at the Three Rivers League district championship.
"Before this, I was training every day and pretty much on my own," Long said. "A lot of throwing is about 'feel,' and that's a really key thing to have. But when you can't necessarily see what you're doing, it's helpful to have someone watch and say, 'Hey. This is what you're doing. Try this instead.'
"Then you can feel that and pay attention to that and build and grow from there. That's been the biggest difference that I've noticed — Scott pointing out little things and I'm like, 'Oh. OK. I can do that.'"
Skipper has been impressed with what he's seen of Long and her abilities.
"I'm excited to be working with Makayla," he said. "She's going to be a state champion in the javelin and probably in the discus, and then I'm going to get her throwing some hammer, too."
Skipper comes by his expertise through years of experience and years of successfully training some of the best throwers in Oregon.
"Kids have to buy into the program, they have to buy into me and if they do, they'll throw far," Skipper said. "There's a lot of scholarship money in track and field for kids. I don't make any promises, but if they come to me and they do what I tell them to do, they've got a good chance to get some money.
"What I like about it is the tape measure doesn't lie. And if they work, they'll see the development."
Since 2012, Skipper has worked with three Gatorade Oregon Track & Field Athletes of the Year — Oregon City's Beau Brosseau, Lakeridge's Maddie Rabing, and Sherwood's Shelby Moran. He also has had 30 high school state champions and 112 state placers.
Among his current group of throwers, Oregon City's Anessa Chirgwin, South Salem's Ian Clawson, Cleveland's Daniel Coppedge, Lake Oswego's Ava David, Wilsonville's Madison Jones, Sandy's Keeley Rasmussen, and West Albany's Aiden Paul and Alyssa Walls are representing STTC at this week's USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field National Championships in Sacramento.
"This is not just a club, it's a tight-knit family," said Skipper, whose sons, Eric and Greg, also serve as assistants. "When these guys are at the same meet, they're encouraging one another. Yeah, they're trying to beat each other, but there's not a lot of animosities.
"They're working together, they're getting better together and they're pushing each other in practice every day to be the best they can be."
Dean Crouser, the former three-time NCAA champion and seven-time All-American thrower at the University of Oregon, founded the Super Thrower Track Club in Gresham in 2001 with Mitch Crouser and Skipper as assistant coaches.
The club went into hibernation when the coaches' sons (including Skipper's) went to college, but Skipper restarted it when he began working with Rabing, a 2016 Lakeridge graduate who won the state shot put and took third in the discus as a senior, and won both events at state as a junior.
"Dean stopped coaching and so did Mitch, and I got out of it until Beau Brosseau wanted some help," Skipper said. "Then I started working with Maddie Rabing from Lakeridge and then it just snowballed.
"I went from three kids in 2012 to five kids the next year, and then it went to 10 to 20 for a couple of years, and now we have 40 or more who come two or three times a week."
— Miles Vance contributed to this story
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)