Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Daniel Smith, Jr. spent his freshman year at Westwood High School, fully involved in athletics. He began the school year on the football team and said it was a great start to the school year. This spring, he spent the athletic season as a member of the Westwood Warriors track and field team.
As a discus and shot put thrower, Smith said staying committed is the hardest part of the sport. In his first year of throwing, he has made himself comfortable in the circle.
“It takes a lot of time to learn techniques and to perfect them and make corrections along the way,” he said.
Despite the hot temperatures and the long wait between flights, Smith said you do get used to the heat. He believes it is important to cheer on his teammates and support them until the final event.
“You learn how to stay busy and cheer on your team as you wait for your turn, and the time passes a little bit faster,” Smith said.
Warming up for either the discus or shot put is a progression, and Smith said he goes through a few practice throws before the start of his flight. He said he gets prepared by going through his steps and working through the fundamentals.
Athletics have been a motivator for Smith in the classroom.
“I think it also makes me want to help out more at home,” he said. “I know I have to be able to get everything done in order to compete. Without the grades you cannot compete, and I think if you cannot keep up your grades you should not be out here.”
On a typical day, Smith said he goes to school, then has practice, goes home to eat and finish his homework, and then heads to bed. He said that is all he really has time for.
Smith has made big improvements since the start of the season and he admits he can see them in himself.
“I think I have improved my technique and [the] distance I can throw,” he said. “With great technique, you can throw a farther distance.”
Smith said he is disappointed the season is coming to an end, but he is going to make the most of it and looks forward to football in the fall.
“I have accomplished what I wanted to this year by trying to break 100 feet, and I did that in the Sun Angel Invitational,” he said. “That was a small goal I set as a freshman, and now I am looking forward to football.”