By: Katherine Itacy, Esq.
Dated: October 22, 2017
As it gets closer to Wednesday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, I have been reflecting more and more upon what the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (“RIIL”) has meant to me. The simple fact is, RIIL changed my life, and has afforded me more opportunities and experiences than I could have ever hoped to have experienced in my lifetime.
You know, even though my family (the Johnstons) have been successful in the hammer and weight throws long before I picked either one up, I actually stumbled upon the events by pure happenstance. When I started high school, the hammer and weight throws were relatively new events for females. In fact, it wasn’t until the summer before my senior year that the women’s hammer throw became an Olympic event. So when my high school track coach told us in 1998 that the events had recently been added to RIIL-sponsored track meets, he asked for some volunteers, and I was one of the girls who signed up.
By the end of my four years competing as a Rhode Island student-athlete in high school track and field, I had accomplished the following:
- Gatorade Rhode Island Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year – in 1999, 2000 and 2001
- Rhode Island high school girls indoor track and field state champion – weight throw – in 1999 and 2000
- Rhode Island high school girls outdoor track and field state champion – hammer throw – in 1999, 2000 and 2001
- Former Rhode Island high school girls indoor track and field state record holder in the weight throw (set in 1999 and again in 2000)
- Rhode Island high school girls outdoor track and field state record holder in the hammer – tied with existing record in 1999; set a new record in 2000, and again in 2001 (which remains the state record to this day)
- National high school girls indoor track and field champion – National Scholastic Indoor Championships – weight throw – in 1999, 2000 and 2001
- National high school girls indoor track and field champion – Nike Indoor Classic – weight throw – in 2000 and 2001
- Former sophomore-class national record holder in the girls’ weight throw (set in 1999)
- National high school girls outdoor track and field champion – hammer throw – in 1999, 2000 and 2001
- Only three-time national champion in the girls’ hammer throw in National Scholastic Outdoor High School Track and Field Championship history
- Former freshman-class and sophomore-class national record holder in the girls’ hammer throw (set in 1998 and 1999, respectively)
- Trained at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California in 2000
- Filmed a training video for the hammer throw for United States of America Track and Field in 2000
- Member of the 2000 United States Track and Field Junior National Team, competing in the 2000 World Junior Track and Field Championships in Santiago, Chile
- Received almost 70 formal recruitment letters/packets from NCAA Division I schools, and ultimately accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend The Pennsylvania State University
Funny thing is, I honestly don’t remember doing half of these things; it was my father who had to remind me. See, more importantly than any award or record, the bond I shared with my father during my eight years of track and field was (and still is) one of the most important and best things that could have ever happened to me. He was (and remains) my biggest supporter (along with my mom); he was my coach (along with my uncle), my talent agent (moderating and keeping account of all the college recruitment letters and phone calls), my strength trainer and my best friend. Over eight years of competitions, spanning from New Hampshire to Florida, North Carolina to California, Canada to Chile, and including each and every RIIL-sponsored local meet, my father only missed two of my performances! That was while commuting every work day from Warwick, Rhode Island to Boston, Massachusetts for work.
The discipline, the sense of sportsmanship, teamwork and sacrifice, the collegiality with my fellow competitors and the sense of self-worth as a young female and as a student-athlete – they can all be attributed as much to RIIL as they can to my dad, Keith Johnston. That is why I feel so indebted to both.
Indeed, I am absolutely certain that any success or accomplishments I have achieved following my 2001 graduation from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School can be directly traced back to my time participating in high school sports, as well as to the time spent and sacrifices made by my father to help me achieve my best.
So on Wednesday night, as I am inducted into the RIIL Hall of Fame, I will be accepting this great honor on behalf of myself and my dad, and in great reverence to RIIL. You have changed my life infinitely for the better, and I am so grateful to be a part of RIIL history. Thank you.
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For last-minute tickets to the event, which must be purchased prior to Wednesday’s event, visit: http://www.riil.org/page/hot_news/view/11