FPD’s Watson responds from adversity for success
Robby Watson has come to realize lately that athletes are probably going to have more failures than successes, and that is just the way life works.
But he also has learned that every failure can become a valuable life lesson.
Watson had one of those cruel moments at the GHSA Class A Private School track meet this year, when he went in as the heavy favorite in the discus and had his eyes on the state record for his class.
But Watson never approached his career best and had only one throw in the sector out of six throws. To make matters worse, he still had the lead heading into the final throw of the event by Landmark Christian’s Drew Anderson. Anderson beat Watson by one foot.
But Watson, a Southern Miss signee and The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year., showed his mental toughness by winning the shot put just 45 minutes after losing the discus.
“My first three throws were out of the sector, but I wasn’t too worried at that point,” the FPD graduate said about the discus. “I thought maybe I was a little too nonchalant and maybe I could have tried harder. I was real relaxed, which is good, but maybe I was a little too relaxed. I got up on my fourth throw, and I was telling myself, ‘I’ve got this, this is no big deal.’ I really focused on getting the throw in bounds, and that’s exactly what I was able to do.”
Watson’s fourth throw took the lead at 164 feet, 20 feet short of his career best throw. That allowed Watson to be aggressive on his final two throws and go for the state record of 168 feet. But both throws sailed out of bounds.
“I was thinking I had one throw that was good enough to win, but the state record at this meet was 168, and I knew I could throw that,” Watson said. “I mean, I have been doing that all season. I got fixated on beating the record, and it cost me. After that all I could do is sit and watch, and I knew that Drew was the one who could still beat me. When he let his last throw go I pretty much knew that he had me beat. He had a big crowd at the meet and listening to all of them celebrate was very difficult.”
After congratulating Anderson, Watson admits he had a bit of a meltdown.
“I broke my sunglasses in two and didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I was asking myself, ‘Why this did happen to me?’ ” Watson said. “Because it was the worst day I have had in a long time. People were telling me it was OK, but in my mind, it really wasn’t OK. I felt like I had let everyone down.”
With the shot put approaching, Watson was finally able to get out of his funk.
“My coach, Dave Sparrow, came up to me, and he is a big man, and he basically gave me a bear hug and would not let go,” Watson said. “The entire time, he was talking to me telling me that everyone has experiences in life that suck really bad, and it is hard to get over them. He told me right now that not winning feels like the worst thing that could ever happen to me, but that it is how you respond and how you grow from it that makes you who you are. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that time.”
Watson went out minutes later and had a great first throw in the shot put and that throw won the meet. Now, he’s turning his focus to college.
“I can’t wait to have a coach with me every single day,” said Watson, who drives to practice at Throw One Deep in Atlanta most weekends. “I am excited to see how good I can get when I have a full-time coach with me and just excited about the college experience.”