By MATTHEW FRANKSenior Kate Johnston is the shining star of the Warwick Vets track program. For the past four years, Johnston has surpassed every hammer thrower in Rhode Island and has emerged as a powerful force in national circles as well. She is …
Vet's Johnston just loes to throw
By MATTHEW FRANK Senior Kate Johnston is the shining star of the Warwick Vets track program. For the past four years, Johnston has surpassed every hammer thrower in Rhode Island and has emerged as a powerful force in national circles as well. She is the twice-defending national champion in the hammer throw, and her top throw this spring was a stellar 187-5. Johnston is expected to excel over the next month at major scholastic meets at the state, regional and national levels and a third national title is a distinct possibility. Johnston's personal successes, however, go far beyond the realm of athletic competitions. In the classroom, Johnston is a high honors student, a member of the National Honor Society, Rhode Island Honor Society and Spanish Honors Society. She also competes for the ‘Canes' indoor track program and is president of the school's marching band (in which capacity she received the John Phillips Sousa Award this year). Topping off this impressive list of achievements, Johnston is a member of the Student Council at Vets, coordinated this year's Blood Drive at the school, and is well-respected by her peers and school officials. “Kate is a perennial All-State athlete and national champion because she works for it,” said Dick Walsh, director of athletics at Vets. “She's very focused, dedicated and hard-working and deserves every award she's ever earned. “Kate is an asset to the city of Warwick and Warwick Vets High because of the recognition she brings, and we'll never be able to replace her.” Gayle Boone, a business teacher and coordinator at the school, echoed Walsh's sentiments. “Kate is one of our finest students and truly one of the nicest people you ever wanted to meet,” said Boone. “She is a treasure to this school.” Johnston said she attributes her accomplishments inside and outside sports to an overwhelming drive to succeed and the support she receives from her father (Keith) and a close uncle (Bill Johnston). She said that they are the two people who give her a push every time she needs one, and have helped her to become a national champion. “Uncle Bill and my dad have always kept on me to succeed,” Johnston said. “If I didn't have them, I don't think I'd be half as good.” It takes a lot of hard work and effort to become a national champion, and Johnston pays a price for her success. She practices three hours a day (including weekends) and works out in the ‘Canes' weight room at least three times every week. Johnston said that the effort she has expended over the past four years has required enormous amounts of free time, but stressed that the sacrifices she undertook have been rewarded on many occasions. Because of her track prowess, Johnston recently signed a national letter of intent (and full athletic scholarship) to attend Pennsylvania State University next year. However, her aspirations extend beyond the next four years as she said she hopes to land a berth on the United States team that will compete in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Regardless of what happens in the future, Johnston said she intends to remain active in hammer throwing for as long as she is capable of competing. “Although I want to try out for the Olympics in 2004, I think I'll stick with the hammer throw for a long time after college,” she said. “I love the event and I think you have to love it if you intend to stick with it as long as I do.” Johnston also said that a personal goal is to promote track and field nationally and to generate more media coverage for meets and events. Although it currently lacks the luster of other major sports (such as baseball, football and basketball), track is a highly competitive and skilled pursuit, she said. Although she may not yet rank among famous track and field athletes such Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee or the late Florence Griffith Joyner, Johnston has plenty of time to strive for the lofty standards established by those superstars. More importantly, Kate Johnston has the commitment, drive and heart to achieve notable things in life.