Northwestern junior Lloydricia Cameron checks the national registry of shot put and discus competitors every day, keeping tab of where she stacks up in distance.
Cameron, who has been throwing since she turned 4, captured the individual shot put title a few years later at the USA Youth Championships at Charlotte, N.C., in the “midget girls” category in 2008 as a member of the Miami Northwest Express Track Club.
Last May, she became the third shot put state champion from her school and first since Ariel Brooks in 2001.
“When I was younger, the whole family was into track and field and my mom always said go run and there was just a day I wanted to throw,” Cameron said. “I was a good runner, but there was just something about throwing. I was too young to throw, and she told me I couldn’t do it.”
Coach Carmen Jackson finds commitment to be the toughest thing to get from the teenage girls she teaches, dealing with everything from mood swings to complacency.
Jackson began to notice a difference in Cameron last year when she struggled, fighting against the grain. She didn’t follow the instruction of her coach until the light finally came on.
One day Cameron began to lift weights. Once showing signs of immaturity, she took practice serious. Cameron can now squat 275 pounds and bench press between 170 to 180 pounds. Her legwork — squats, power cleans and medicine balls — help rotate her hips for her powerful throws.
“What separates the average good athlete and the great athlete is the commitment first,” Jackson said. “Second is the attitude and pride that you have in your event. Lloydricia has all of that.
“A lot of people say age is maturity. I think it’s something inside. They’re not doing it for you or mom or dad they’re doing it for themselves.”
Cameron’s throwing coach since last season, Austin Monroe, worked with her on video analysis. He set up cameras to show her what she was doing wrong — getting her left foot down at the proper time.
Monroe received tips and drills to correct it from several coaches.
There was an instant result.
Once Cameron was able to see what she was doing on tape, she understood how important the drills were to get power and push into her throws with a strong core.
It then came to muscle memory, repeating the motion enough that she could visualize it in her head. On the sidelines in between throws, she tries to perfect her drills so when it comes time to enter the circle, her body knows exactly what it needs to do.
“Like a lot of kids, Lloydricia’s a very visual person,” Monroe said. “You can tell them things and once they were able to see exactly what it is you were telling them then she could really start working on those different skills and techniques to perfect her throws.”
Cameron will compete in the Class 3A state finals in Jacksonville this Friday where she hopes to repeat as shot put champion and make up for her runner-up finish in the discus.
She’ll also be gearing up for the 2013 World Youth Track & Field Trials in Edwardsville, Ill., from June 25 to June 26. Depending on her performance, she could earn a spot on the IAAF World Youth Team.
“I feel more into it this year maybe because I want bigger things in life,” Cameron said. “It’s the drive to want to be the best.”