So how did April Malveo go from not knowing the correct way to throw the discus in high school to being a two-time All-American thrower at Louisiana Tech and the first ever female track and field athlete inducted into the University's Athletics Hall of Fame?
Well, there was tons of desire, hard work and determination. Then there was one of the easiest, or sometimes hardest, of things for people to do - listening.
As a track star at McDonough 35 in New Orleans, Malveo was told matter-of-factly by her coach one afternoon to go watch the boys and girls throw the shot put. Malveo did and before long started throwing it herself.
And now almost two decades later, Malveo will join O.K. "Buddy" Davis, Bill Galloway, Walter Johnson and George Stone as the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2013 in an induction ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Waggonner Room of the Thomas Assembly Center. The event is open to the public.
It's an impressive honor for an impressive individual.
Despite not having a throws coach in high school, Malveo managed to flash enough athleticism and promise in the fall of 1995 to impress a throws coach from another school - Larry Carmichael of Louisiana Tech. It took just one throw at one event.
"I was good in high school, but I never knew I was that good," Malveo admitted. "I didn't even know Coach Carmichael was looking at me. One day my high school counselor said, `This coach is calling you from Louisiana Tech. You should call him.' That's how I got in touch with Coach Carmichael. He must have seen some raw potential."
One she got to Ruston, the long developing process began.
"She threw the shot put decently, and that is what I happened to see her doing," said Carmichael, the former LA Tech throws coach who spent 22 years on Tech head coach Gary Stanley's staff. "She did not really know how to do the discus spin. She just stood in the front of the circle and threw. So I started teaching her from scratch.
"She had a lot of athleticism and a lot of explosiveness. During the time we were together, she went from not being able to do the discus to being an Olympic finalist in that event five years later."
April listened and learned. And then all the accolades followed suit.
She was a three-time NCAA qualifier, a nine-time Sun Belt Conference champion in the shot put, discus and weight throw, and a 14-time All-SBC honoree.
Wait, there is more. Malveo was also named the Sun Belt Conference Outstanding Meet Performer three times, at the 1997 Indoor, 1998 Indoor and 1998 Outdoor championships.
"Larry did a very good job of developing her," said Stanley, LA Tech's coach for the past 32 years. "We thought she could be successful on the collegiate level with her skill set. She was willing to work countless hours in the weight room and on the field. When you are in the field event throws, you spend as much time in the weight room as you do on the field. She embraced that."
Stanley was like the jovial big brother to Malveo, and Carmichael was like the father figure who groomed her through college. Carmichael was dad-like in pushing her and encouraging her, all the while holding higher expectations for his star student than she had for herself.
That expectation was no doubt met in 1999 when one discus throw in the circle got her noticed on the national stage at the Texas Relays, one of the largest meets in the United States and a destination of who's-who of track and field stars.
"Anybody who is anybody is going to be at the Texas Relays," Malveo said. "I remember I got in the ring, and I was very calm. It was the calmest I had ever been. I remember Coach Carmichael said `Don't let it go, stay on the discus right until the very end.' I could just see him doing his motions in his head, and my fingers just stayed on the discus right until the last moment. It went off and sailed perfectly."
The 2.2-pound, frisbee-like object sailed 187 feet and 10 inches, making Malveo the first Lady Techster track and field athlete ever to be a Texas Relays champion. It also set the Tech school record, a record that still stands.
Malveo had an internal knack for performing her best in the big moments. However, as much as the individual achievements were nice - and constantly stock-piling - there was one award she badly wanted that was missing from her resume.
During her senior year in 1999, Malveo and her Lady Techster teammates had their shot at it once more - the conference championship team title - in Lafayette, La. It would be the last opportunity for Malveo, and she would do anything, and throw anything, to win it.
"My primary event was the discus and then the shot, but I did the javelin in high school," Malveo said. "I wanted that championship so bad I threw my arm out in the javelin to get one point. I got one point and that is what we needed. We had a team of women who did what we needed to do and the throwers basically became the anchor for the team."
She led the LA Tech women to their first ever team title as the Lady Techsters captured the 1999 Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Championships. It started a decade of dominance for Stanley's ladies.
"If you look at what our team did during April's years, she was the beginning of what was our assent to 13 conference championships," Stanley said. "We were basically the last school in the state to add women's track. She was in that era where we really made the climb.
"She is certainly deserving [of the Hall of Fame], and I think people that see her here will see how special of an individual she is."
Following her career at Tech, Malveo remained in Ruston and continued listening to the teachings of Carmichael in preparation for the 2000 Olympic trials where she was a finalist in the discus, finishing 10th.
"Beyond all of the honors and the great things she did, from my standpoint she never stopped listening from the time she came in as a freshman to the time she was at the Olympic trials with me," Carmichael said. "She was always the same with her willingness to listen. She never got too big for her britches. That is not a characteristic that all athletes have."
Listening came in handy just as much in the classroom; Malveo majored in industrial engineering with some mathematics sprinkled in there.
She joined the U.S. Navy following graduation, and lived all over the Asian Pacific ... from Japan to Korea to Vietnam to Thailand to Singapore to Australia.
Now living back in the United States and working at the Pentagon, Malveo was in Maryland when she heard, to her surprise, that she would be one of five individuals inducted into the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
"April was outstanding as an athlete and even more outstanding in the classroom," Carmichael said. "That is one of the things that makes her absolutely deserving of the honor she is being given now. I couldn't be more proud of her. I'm glad to know that she is the first woman track athlete [to earn this distinction]."
Even if some time in the future her college records are eclipsed, Malveo jokingly said she would still be in the LA Tech Hall of Fame. And she would probably still feel the effects of the javelin throw that proved to be the difference in the 1999 Sun Belt Championships.
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