Anna Jelmini: Power and Focus can Launch the Disc Really, Really Far

Like most talented athletes, Anna Jelmini, CA, began her sporting career in multiple sports. She began throwing early, beginning with the shot put in 4th grade and the discus in 5th grade, but she also participated in volleyball, swimming, basketball, softball, and yes, even cross country. But as a 6th grader she may have had all the intervention she needed to become a star thrower. Anna’s coach that year was Dawn Godbehere, an experienced thrower who taught Anna the shot put using the spin technique. The rest is history, a little of which I’ll share with you now.

Anna did continue to compete in multiple sports across her high school career, but kept putting up solid marks and winning competitions in track and field. She admits that she loved basketball better until her freshman year, at which point track became number one. Hardly a surprise considering she recorded throws of 30-6 in the shot put and 141 in the discus. The impressive numbers continued under the guidance of Matt Godbehere, throws coach at Shafter, CA High School. As a sophomore her shot improved to 42-6 and her discus to 155-8. As a junior she recorded numbers of 50-4 in the shot and 183-11 in the discus, rather significant improvements in a year’s time. She continued to compete in other sports up until this year, giving them all up because “I have really big goals (this year) and didn’t want to risk anything”.

The sacrifice was worth it as she has recorded a US All-Time discus throw of 190-3 and a US #2 All-Time shot put throw of 54-04.75. But perhaps more importantly, the switch to track exclusivity after three years was met by encouragement from her friends and former teammates. “They understood that I had bigger and better things to do, they were supportive”, she says.

Bigger and better things have certainly come to Anna, but she still remains humble in her success. She encourages the other throwers on the team and takes her position as a role model for the team very seriously. “My team is really supportive of me; everyone always encourages me (at the meets)”. And she credits Coach Godbehere, with giving her the tools to succeed in ways she never imagined when she first picked up a discus. “(Matt) is a really nice coach, and he helps everybody out, makes workouts for everyone. He is very positive toward the whole team”.

“The discus is definitely my favorite event. I like the way I feel when I am throwing it, just being powerful with it”. This statement is wrought with intensity, an intensity that is buried deep because Anna is so calm when she talks to you about it. But make no mistake, that intensity comes out when she is ready to throw. “Competing is exciting, the individual (nature) of it, that it just takes you to win”, is how she describes what it is like to compete in this sport.

Her confidence and intense nature spill over into her preparation for competition. Anna is NOT superstitious. When asked her about pre-competition rituals her reply was, “If you are confident in what you are doing, with your training and practice, in what you can do in the competition, why would you be (superstitious)?” Anna treats preparation the same as her throwing technique, no wasted motion or effort. “I make sure to get enough sleep and fluids, try to focus on each throw, visualize each throw. I try to stay concentrated and make sure I get enough warm-up time”. Nothing else needs said; her marks this year speak to her dedication and focus.

As Anna’s senior season wraps to a close, two main goals remain to accomplish. She wants to win the shot and discus at her state meet this weekend to become the only high school female thrower to double in both events in two successive years. She also wants to win the USATF Junior Nationals in the discus and shot put. Last year she won the discus and finished 4th in the shot put. Anna is excited to get back to the IAAF World Junior Championships, a meet that she calls “an Olympics for your age group, all of these athletes will be trying to make the Olympics for their country the same time you are”. Anna has also had an Olympic experience of a different kind. Last summer she competed in the US Olympic Trials, finishing 19th in the discus with a throw of 160-6. The placing was an improvement on her ranking of 23rd going into the competition. Though the throw was short of her season best, Anna said that she was really excited to be there and experience a meet of that caliber while still in high school. Anna admitted to “being nervous, and in awe of the professionals”, although that feeling will likely fade for her as she becomes one of them next year in college.

With Olympic aspirations already at the forefront of her mind, Anna chose Arizona State for her higher education and continued development in the sport. While competing for the Sun Devils Anna will be coached by the best. David Dumble has spent 8 years at ASU, and the numbers speak volumes. According to the ASU athletic website he has coached 4 athletes to 12 NCAA titles, and 7 athletes to a combined 40 All-American certificates. His athletes have also garnered numerous academic honors as well. “Coach (Dumble) is a really good coach, really positive. He knows what he is talking about with technique and knows how to strengthen specifically for throwers”, Anna says. She adds that, “(ASU) coaches make sure that their athletes reach their potentials. You can train there post-collegiate, not have to change coaches after college”.

Anna says she hasn’t thought much about college goals because she is focused on the remainder of her senior year, but she would like to “win national titles in the discus and shot, and a team title as well”.

The way things are going for Anna during her senior year, her remaining season goals seem all the more achievable, as do her Collegiate and Olympic goals. Anna closes by saying, “I have a great coach and a good support group from family and friends. My parent’s come to every meet, and my sisters wish me well even though they can’t be there. I like having my parent s there, it is nice to know they come to support and encourage me”.