Shelby Ashe likes to keep things simple and in the moment.
To keep from getting overwhelmed by the larger scope of things, the St. Pius senior breaks her routine down into a series of small activities. It’s a perspective that serves the top female high school thrower in the country well.
“Airport, meet, home, practice, repeat,” said Ashe, describing her routine over the winter during the indoor track season.
Ashe, the United States girls high school record holder in the weight throw, became the first female to throw 20 meters three times in the same meet earlier this month at the 2011 New Balance National Indoor Championships on March 13 in New York. Ashe’s final throw of 68 feet, 2.5 inches (20.79 meters) broke her own national record in the event.
The indoor track and field season took Ashe to Idaho, New Mexico, New York and a few places in between. Since the end of the indoor season, Ashe works out six days a week with the Marietta-based throwing club Throw1Deep. The team is coached by former University of Georgia thrower Mike Judge.
“[Judge] told me ‘I can make you a pretty good shot putter, but I can make you a really good hammer thrower,’” said Ashe, whose long list of previous athletic activities include basketball, cheerleading, dance, gymnastics, soccer, karate and softball.
So instead of hopping planes every weekend as she did during the winter, Ashe has a more mundane spring schedule that goes something like this: “Practice, practice, ice bath, a little more practice.”
Ashe is competing with her high school team this spring, coached by Chad Garrison, while she trains with Throw1Deep. Taking only Fridays off, Ashe said she drives to Marietta right after school and usually gets home around 7 or 7:30 p.m. every night. She competes in the shot put and discus in high school and in the hammer throw and weight throw with her club team during the outdoor season.
“When I get home it’s usually homework, dinner and a shower,” she said.
The hectic schedule has not hampered Ashe in the classroom as she plans on attending Harvard University. During the indoor season, she said the tried to turn in homework early and made up any missed tests or assignments the Monday after returning.
“At first I didn’t want to do sports in college,” Ashe said. “But this changes everything. I want to take a year off to train for the Olympics, then go to Harvard.”
It’s been a whirlwind two years that Ashe would not have imagined heading into her sophomore year at St. Pius. Ashe ran track her freshman year and joined the club at the end of her sophomore year.
“I hadn’t even heard of the hammer throw,” said Ashe, who lives in Stone Mountain. “I never imagined this would happen as fast as it did. To come in and not even know what I was doing to in a year going to the Youth Olympics. It’s definitely a little shocking.”
Ashe credits her parents and her coaches for keeping her grounded. And she has maintained the same small group of friends she has had since elementary school.
“I don’t get out of chores or homework,” Ashe said. “And my coach lets me know what I need to be doing. I have a small group of friends–that’s my little getaway.
“I really do just take it one day at a time,” she said. “I make sure I stay healthy and continue to get better and stronger. I try not to take things too seriously. If I know I need an ice bath, I take an ice bath. If I need to do my homework, I do my homework.”
Ashe has two sets of goals she is working toward. First, she is the Class AAA defending girls state shot put champion and has her sights set on the state record. Her throw of 46-5 last year was the best in all classifications. The state record in the shot put is 48-5.
She also plans to compete for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team. Trials are next summer in Oregon, and Ashe said two or three athletes will be chosen in the weight throw for the Olympics.
“In 2008 for me the Olympics were something to watch, now the 2012 Olympics are something to go for,” Ashe said.