Thursday, March 7, 2013
San Diego (March 7, 2013) – The javelin, a lightweight spear measuring eight feet six inches long and weighing 800 grams, has been used since ancient times. Learning to throw it really well is a nearly full-time job, as part-time law student Nick Howe, '16 (JD), can attest.
Nick began throwing things when he was about five, and he became an excellent baseball pitcher, receiving athletic scholarship offers after high school which he turned down in order to attend the more highly academically ranked UCSD where he majored in political science and international relations. Nick's father, who had thrown the javelin when he was in college, urged Nick to give the sport a try, and Nick went on to win the California Collegiate Athletic Association title in his freshman year and in all three of his succeeding years at UCSD. Ranked 28th in the country, Nick was a three-time All-American, holds the UCSD record for javelin, and is a two-time national champ.
"My goal now is to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games," Nick explains. "If things work out, I'll graduate from law school in the spring and head to Rio that summer." But there's a lot of hard work to be done before that can happen.
Training six days a week at UCSD where he also volunteers as an assistant coach, Nick at least doesn't need to worry about working exercise into his schedule the way many other law students do. "I wake up early and read for class before heading to UCSD for the day. Weekends are the time when I catch up and try to get a head start on the next week's reading." Nick admits he wasn't much of a student his freshman year at UCSD, and he credits his girlfriend, whom he started dating as a sophomore, with whipping him into shape academically. "She's a mechanical engineering major, so she doesn't fool around. We started spending a lot of time in the library, and my grades went up. I did have to convince her to stop pulling all-nighters, though: they're bad for anyone's performance, on the field or in the classroom."
In a typical training day, Nick might lift weights, do 30-50 throws, lower his entire body into a bathtub full of ice to reduce swelling caused by intense exercise, and watch several training videos. In order not to strain his throwing arm, he only does javelin throws twice a week, throwing medicine balls, which are easier on his joints, on the other days. "The javelin throw is all about technique. The best thrower on record was only six feet tall, but his technique was perfect." Nick is grateful to have a wonderful coach at UCSD who gives him detailed, technical feedback on training days and motivates him during competition by mentioning key terms that direct his focus. "To succeed in javelin, and in law school, I need to take advice from the experts. I always thought I was a good writer until I got to USD, but Professor Brandes has shown me how far I have to go."
Nick has been able to defray some of his expenses with the help of the Movin' Shoes Elite Athlete Development Program, which provides support for post-collegiate athletes; they've supplied him with shoes, uniforms, and gear. "There is no way I could ever have hoped to pursue my twin dreams of completing law school and competing in the Olympics without my sponsors, my coaches, and, most of all, my wonderful family."