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Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) was the place to be this week for aspiring and current shot-putters and discus throwers from across South Texas. The All-American Throwers’ Camp was held at the campus Monday through Thursday mornings.
Founder and coordinator of this specialty sports camp, Larry Howell, has seen many of his former campers succeed at state, national and international levels.
“We started the camp about 10 years ago,” explained Howell. “It is open to anyone in the Valley ages six to 18, and the object of the camp is to show these kids that they can compete with anybody in the State of Texas. Over the years we have had 10 or 11 state champions come out of our camps.”
“At this last state meet the boy who won it from Palmview High School (Felipe Valencia) came from our camp and the boy who came in second, who is from the Dallas area, is from our camp also,” added Howell. “Then there’s Stephen Saenz, who was a national champion and made the Olympic team for Mexico, he’s from our camp as well.”
After moving the camp from Edinburg to Mission this year, Howell expected to have a good number of Mission kids attend his camp.
“We had 36 kids sign up for this camp,” said Howell. “We were hoping to have more young Mission kids here, with it being in their hometown and all, but not as many as we hoped showed up. We did have one boy from Laredo and four or five from San Antonio. Most are from the Valley, however, including some from Los Fresnos and Sharyland.”
One of the instructors at this year’s All-American Throwers’ Camp is an All-American herself. Another instructor just graduated from Veterans Memorial High School.
“Corina Cox from Los Fresnos is one of the top throwers in the nation this year,” said Howell. “She actually led the nation for a while at 169 – almost 170 feet – in the discus. She made All-American and now she is one of our instructors. Keilah Garcia, from Mission Veterans, threw 150 feet to put her among the top in the state in 4A is now one of our instructors also.”
Cox, who will be attending Troy University in Alabama on a full scholarship in the fall, is a three -year state qualifier and is currently ranked third in the nation in the discus.
“I got a lot better as the years went on,” explained Cox. “My freshman year I made it onto the varsity squad but I wasn’t ready for that level of competition. My sophomore year I made it to the state meet for the first time and I placed seventh. My junior year I made it to state again and I threw the discus 150 feet to place fourth. My senior year I broke the Valley record with a throw of 169 feet and I placed second at state.”
Cox attributes much of her success to Howell and his All-American Throwers’ Camp which she first attended long before she even imagined the possibility of being named All-American.
“Actually it was Coach Howell that got me started into this,” said Cox. “I was in sixth grade and we were doing summer track at Los Fresnos. I was throwing the shot put and he came up to me and told me that he had a camp that could help me get better. So I went to it and I’ve been going to it for the last six years.”
“Coach Howell has helped me out a lot,” added Cox. “The main thing was that when I was 12 years old he came up to me, he shook my hand and said, ‘I only shake hands with state champs.’ That really got me believing that I could do anything I set my mind to.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.