Avery Koch took two steps backward just after she took a giant step forward while sitting down.
Shortly after signing her national letter of intent to compete for Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, as an NCAA Division I track and field athlete, Koch glanced at Brownstown Central’s record board in the school trophy room near the gym.
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Her gaze settled on the girls discus throw mark. Although the future is secured, Koch does not wish to depart her old high school in 2021 without emblazoning her name on the board. When spring track arrives, she will be thinking about discus numbers.
The Braves’ current school record of 138 feet, 2 inches was set by Mackenzie Cutter in 2006. Koch’s personal best throw is 135-6. That was without the opportunity to compete earlier this year when Indiana high school spring sports were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maria Conklin, Brownstown’s assistant coach for the weight events in girls track, who was present for the signing, said directly, “School record” when it’s about Koch in the coming months.
Koch also is a successful shot putter with a best heave of 38-6, but the discus is her true specialty.
“Disc is my favorite,” Koch said.
Her friends ask if spinning the platter is like throwing a Frisbee. Although the discus and a Frisbee are both flying discs, the question demonstrates more about what the inquirer doesn’t know. The average American who is not otherwise connected to the sport probably only sees the discus contested every four years during the Summer Olympic Games.
Besides being heavier than plain old plastic at 1.6 kilograms, the discus is made of a composite of fiberglass, carbon fiber or metal, plastic, wood and has a metal core and rim. It is not a toy for a dog to catch in his mouth.
“It takes a lot of technique,” Koch said.
Not everyone can master the form and moves within the confines of the throwing ring to gain good distance, but for Koch, the discus came easier than throwing the shot, which is often associated more with brute strength.
“It came more natural to me,” said Koch, now 17, but who got an early start in the discus as a fourth-grader. “My mom was my track coach. She taught me a lot of the basics of throwing.”
Mom Melanie threw the shot put and discus for Seymour High School. She said she still owns records for seventh and eighth grade girls among Seymour Middle School competitors.
“I saw the potential,” Melanie Koch said. “She was in the sixth grade and she qualified as a conference alternate.”
Mom told Avery, “If you work hard,” she could get somewhere in the discus.
“She has worked hard,” Melanie said.
The Belmont Bruins of the Ohio Valley Conference are not as well-known as some other intercollegiate programs, and Koch said when she told friends she was headed to Belmont, many did not know where it was located.
“A lot of people ask me,” Koch said.
Koch is currently a member of the Brownstown basketball team. She used to play volleyball, as well, but has had three knee operations on two knees and gave it up. Coincidence or not, Koch plans to become a nurse after college.
“Their nursing program really stood out,” she said.
Koch said she found Belmont before Belmont found her.
“I sent them some of my marks,” she said.
The discus distance she has thrown attracted the attention, although it is quite likely she will throw 40 feet in the shot put before joining the Bruins.
Koch’s father, Mark, who was not a shot putter and discus thrower, said Avery has long held the goal of becoming a college athlete.
“That’s what she’s wanted forever,” he said.
The signing did represent a big moment for Koch.
“I always had the dream of playing in college for a sport,” Koch said. “It’s always been a dream.”
When Belmont contacted her and made that aspiration a reality, Koch processed strong emotions.
“I was super excited, but it was more of a shock,” she said.
Becoming Belmont bound will become realer by the day.