Holly Taylor explains track throwing sports and talks ‘balance’

A sit down with one of SFU’s young track stars

Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics.

By: Victoria Lopatka


Name: Holly Taylor             

Year: Freshman (first-year)

Hometown: Brantford, Ontario

Major: Criminology

Sport(s) you play at SFU: Track and field (shot put, hammer throw, weight throw, discus)

GPA: 3.3

Part A (Miscellaneous)

The Peak: What’s your favourite meal/snack to have before a practice or game?

Holly Taylor: I have morning practice three days a week, and it’s beneficial for me to eat a lot of protein and gain energy prior to throwing. I eat two eggs, oatmeal with protein powder and berries, and different fruits offered from the dining hall.

Competitions are held at different times in different track and field meets, so my meal is dependent on the time of the competition. However, it will always include protein and carbs.

P: Do you have any pre-game good luck rituals or superstitions?

H: I have a superstition that I must wear the same outfit every meet; an SFU singlet, my SFU tights, and the same socks (washed, of course). I also repeat the same warm-up before I throw.

P: What song/artist do you listen to to get you pumped up before a practice or game?

H: I have a warm-up playlist with about 40 songs that I like to listen to, but the song I listen to right before I’m about to go compete is “Mula” by J-Soul.

P: What’s something you do for self-care, physically or emotionally?

H: I enjoy sitting, listening to music, and doing nothing else. This helps me feel relaxed and less anxious before a meet. The night before a meet, I will relax, watch Netflix, and go to sleep relatively early.

P: Who’s your biggest inspiration?

H: My biggest inspiration is a shot putter; her name is Brittany Crew, and she threw for Canada in the most recent outdoor Olympics. I have trained with her before, and she reminds me a lot of myself. However, here at SFU, my idols are Peter Behncke and Mackenzie Stewart, who are both on the track and field team.

P: What’s your favourite Olympic sport?

H: If I was asked this four years ago, I would’ve said hockey because I grew up playing the sport. But now, track and field, specifically hammer throw, is my favourite event to watch in the Olympics. It’s amazing to see how far some people can throw a metal ball on a chain.

P: How often do you have a day off? (Follow-up question: If you had an entire day off to do whatever you want, what would you do?)

H: Wednesday and Friday. I don’t have any classes, but I have training and lifting. I try to lift 4–5 days a week and throw 3–4. On my days off from training, I try to relax and study as much as I can. I also like to hang out with some friends.

Part B (Athletics)

P: For those who don’t know anything about it, can you briefly explain what shot put, hammer throw, weight throw, and discus are?

H: Shot put – a metal ball that you throw from either rotating or gliding across a seven-foot circle

Hammer throw – a metal ball (the same weight as the shot put) on a metal wire. To throw it far; you turn 3–4 times in a circle a little bigger than the shot put circle and release it.

Weight throw – similar technique as hammer throw, but it is a 20-pound implement and is thrown indoors.

Discus – a little harder to explain. You use the same technique for discus as you do for rotational shot put, but the implement is like a heavy Frisbee.

P: When did you first begin doing track and field?

H: I first began doing track and field in grade nine for fun. I joined the Brantford Track and Field Club (which is in Ontario, where I’m from) in the summer following grade 10, and I was being coached full time by my grade 11 year.

P: What made you first interested in track and field, as well as specifically hammer throw, weight throw, discus, etc.?

H: Track and field was a part of gym in grade nine, and I picked up a shot put and threw it farther than everyone in my class, which I thought was cool. I was introduced to discus by my throws coach, Sean Doucette, and then javelin, which I don’t compete in anymore. In my grade 12 year, I was introduced to hammer throw, and the following indoor season I started competing in weight throw. In Ontario, hammer throw isn’t a track and field event because it is so dangerous without proper technique. I was only interested in shot put at first because I didn’t know the other events even existed, but my coach learned the basic techniques of each event and taught me.

P: Have you participated in any meets/competitions recently? If so, how did you do at them?

H: I have competed in three meets thus far, UW Indoor Preview, UW Invitational, and Hillsdale College Wide Track Classic in Michigan. The first meet, I was able to throw shot put and I threw a personal best of 13.25 metres. This was an 80 centimetre improvement from my last measured throw. The second meet was my first university competition in weight throw, and I threw 14.41 metres, which is 35 centimetres farther than my last measured throw. So far, I have been doing really well. GNAC Conference Finals are approaching and I am starting to prepare for that; the competition is on February 16 and 17 in Nampa, Idaho.

Part C (School/life)

P: What does an average school/practice day look like for you?

H: If I have class, training, and weight lifting, this is what my day looks like: I wake up, eat a balanced meal, get to the BOG, the gym for varsity NCAA athletes, by 7:30 a.m., and lift for about an hour and a half. Then, I make my way up to either the east gym or the field outside to throw. Because we are in indoor season right now, we practice inside for the most part. I finish throwing by 10:00–10:15 a.m., shower in the locker room, and prepare for class. My class volume varies from day to day, so the rest of my schedule is dependent on my classes. My busiest day is Tuesday, as I have class until 6:30 p.m. after everything mentioned above.

P: How do you balance competitive athletics and post-secondary academics?

H: It was a really eye-opening and difficult transition from high school to university with balancing academics and athletics. I’ve found that scheduling is very important. I have three different agendas, one for track meets and training, another for class times and important due dates, and the last one is for everything mixed together. This provides me with a time limit to get things done. I always make time for athletics, but sometimes it is nice to relax and to procrastinate. Now, I’ve begun setting specific daily goals and it is really easy to achieve them because I’m determined. My best tip for anyone who is trying to balance post-secondary education with athletics is to plan ahead. Get a calendar, schedule your days, and set daily goals.

P: How are you liking SFU so far?

H: I am enjoying SFU so far. I am an independent person, so the transition from living at home in Ontario with my family to living on my own, a five-hour flight away from home, was easy. I enjoy living on campus because everything is so convenient. The classes are really interesting thus far and the professors have been great for the most part. I’ve met a lot of new people and the experience in its entirety has been positive. And of course, the track and field athletes are so supportive of each other; it’s nice to be preparing for a throw and hearing your teammates cheer for you.

P: What drew you to the major you chose?

H: I have always been really interested in criminality and deviance. I was also one of those kids that would watch crime shows with my parents before bed. My favourite shows were NCIS and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I also participated in co-operative education in high school; I worked in a law firm and I really enjoyed it.

P: How do you keep yourself mentally and physically healthy with such a demanding schedule?

H: I keep myself mentally healthy by making sure I switch up my routine and balance activities. It’s difficult to maintain sanity when you’re constantly busy studying after a long day of classes and training. I stay physically healthy by making sure I always attend lifting and throwing sessions, go to physiotherapy when needed, and eating healthy the majority of the time. As I mentioned above, you need to have balance. This means meals balanced with protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, but it also means treating yourself once in a while.