The Shot Doctor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003

SOUTH POINT - He stands

at the fence behind the discus ring, studies the thrower, then makes adjustments. Rusty Smith is determined to make the thrower better at the event.

And they're not even from his own team.

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Smith has been coaching shot put and discus since 1980 at South Point High School when his brother, Randy, became the head coach.

Under his tutelage, Smith has had some outstanding throwers in the shot put and discus including Theresa Sherman, a three-time state champion in the discus.

But Smith, who is an unpaid volunteer assistant coach, doesn't limit his coaching to just South Point. When throwers from other schools ask for his assistance, he has no problem incorporating them into his workouts as if they were one of his own.

Last season alone, Fairland discus thrower Britani Keeney and Coal Grove shot put and discus throwers Rick Wynn and Dan Cordle all advanced to the regionals. Keeney finished as the state runner-up in Division II.

"I was here anyway helping (his sons) Jared and Chris. Anyone was welcome," Smith said. "It just kept growing."

One thrower from Maysville, Ky., sought out Smith at a track meet and asked to visit his coaching sessions. The youngster went on to break the Kentucky high school indoor meet record.

But Smith will be helping more outside his own practice territory this year. Besides conducting a clinic last Saturday, he has been hired to conduct seminars for Cincinnati Moeller's track team.

"I guess you would say I'm part of their coaching staff," Smith said with a grin.

Smith, a standout quarterback and track thrower at South Point, played at Glenville State College.

After college, Smith began to get more interested in teaching the shot put and discus.

He began studying Olympic throwers, attending clinics and soaking up as much information as possible.

It was during the early 1980s that Smith taped Randy Barnes of St. Albans (W.Va.) High School.

"I asked him if he cared if I taped his meet and studied him. We both talked about what he was doing right and wrong," Smith said.

The friendship stuck and Barnes later trained along with Smith's help. The duo experimented with techniques and positions in the ring.

Barnes went on to win an Olympic shot put Silver Medal in 1988 and a Gold Medal in 1996. He set a world record of 75-10 1/4 in 1990.

"Guys are bigger and strong than Randy (Barnes), but he had the right combination and technique," Smith said.

Randy Smith said having his brother to coach shot put and discus has been a huge blessing.

"Just look at his OVC, district, regional and state places and that will tell you what kind of job he does. That's an area I never have to worry about. It saves a lot of time," Randy Smith said.

Rusty Smith hasn't stopped trying to learn. He has talked with Olympic discus champion Mac Wilkins and studied his video.