Somewhere near Salt Lake City, Utah, Charity Hill and Jake Hendy were throwing the discus and javelin, respectively, in a track and field competition. At the time, the two did not know each other.
Flash forward a few years and both Hill and Hendy are competing on Temple’s men’s and women’s track and field teams. The two are now friends, and share more things in common than just being from Utah and competing on the track in high school. They’re both Mormons, they’re both in the same Women in Religion’s class, and, oddly enough, neither has thrown a discus or javelin in over four years.
Hill, a senior, came to Temple on a volleyball scholarship, while Hendy, a junior, recently enrolled under a football scholarship.
At the beginning of the season, the track team found itself without a single discus, javelin, or shot-put competitor. Without anyone to compete, coach George Phillips was frustrated.
“It’s very hard for us as a team to compete and win the championship when we’re not able to compete in all of the events,” Phillips said.
Three weeks into the season, however, the answer fell in Phillips’ lap.
Hendy happened to be talking with assistant director of athletics Gary Bundy when he mentioned how he used to throw the javelin in high school. Bundy immediately got on the phone with Phillips, who was excited when he heard about the prospect of a javelin thrower.
“It is an opportunity to score points and something we usually don’t get points at,” Phillips said. “For us it’s a plus.”
Hendy, a graduate of Hillcrest High School in Sandy, Utah, will be the football team’s new punter. He spent four years between Dixie State and Snow College, two junior colleges in Utah. After graduation, however, Hendy traveled to northern Canada for two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hendy played baseball and football in high school, and did not begin throwing the javelin until his senior year. His farthest toss went for 211 feet, an exceptional distance.
Not having thrown for six years, Hendy is eager to test his arm now that he is taller and stronger. He hasn’t been able to practice much because of the spring football training schedule, which ended this past weekend with the Cherry and White game. Since then, he has been practicing all week in preparation for this weekend’s Atlantic Ten Championships at the University of Richmond.
At first, Hendy was wary of trying to compete in two major collegiate sports, especially when he hadn’t competed in one for nearly six years.
“I didn’t realistically think it could happen,” Hendy said.
Approval had to pass through football coach Bobby Wallace, who was more than happy to allow Hendy to participate, so long as it didn’t interfere with football practice.
“It’s not the first time and it’s not a problem,” Wallace said.
Donnie Coleman, Shawn Bullard, and Ikey Chuku switched over to football after stints with the track and field team. Coleman and Bullard graduated last May, while Chuku, a sixth-year senior, is still on the team as a wide receiver.
While swapping players may be a relatively common practice with the football team, the same cannot be said for volleyball.
Hill found out about the team’s need for throwers through Hendy. Phillips was ecstatic to learn that he had also found an athlete for the women’s team.
When her volleyball eligibility expired this past fall, Hill decided to fill the void by going back to track and field, a sport she hasn’t competed in since she attended East High School in Salt Lake City. That was her only experience throwing the discus, and her farthest throw went for 128 feet.
With her spring schedule less congested, Hill competed in the Legacy Track Meet at Morgan State on April 18. She placed 15th in both the shot put and distance competitions, throwing for 26.33 feet and 82.52 feet, respectively.
Hill, who has been practicing for the past month, was unsure of what her performance would be like after a four-year absence.
“I was a little nervous because I haven’t thrown in four years,” Hill said. “But it’s coming back to me [faster] than I thought.”
“But I have seen her play a lot of volleyball,” Phillips said. “She’s a very fine athlete. She’ll do fine at whatever she does.”
Hill will be competing in all three throwing events at the A-10s, while Hendy will compete in the javelin.
Steve Papurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.