Posts tagged ‘From The Magazine’

Leaping Toward Greatness

Look for more of Steve Waithe in our May/June 2015 issue.

A few short years ago, Steve Waithe couldn’t have imagined his future. If anything, his future wasn’t something he thought much about.

“I didn’t have much of a mentality to do well in school—I didn’t really think I had anything to work for,” Waithe says. He’s thinking back to his high school days in Maryland, when by his own admission, he didn’t take his academics or athletics seriously. “Honestly,” he says, “I was just kind of playing around.”

Waithe Jump

Photo by Cardoni

Waithe is hardly the only 15- or 16-year-old kid who lacked motivation, but when he finally found it, it was almost too late. In his final two years of high school, Waithe realized he had the potential to be good—maybe even great—in the long and triple jumps. He quickly became one of the best prep jumpers in the nation, but having dug himself into a hole academically, he couldn’t get his grades up in time to qualify for a Division I college. When he landed at Shippensburg University, it was with a very different mindset. And a plan.

“Before I even started to compete at Shippensburg, I told my coach, ‘I believe I’m a Division I-caliber athlete,’” Waithe recalls. “He was just happy to have me there in the first place, and he was really supportive. We came up with a program to make sure my academics were where they needed to be. There was no hostility. It was a good experience.”

Waithe spent a year and a half at Ship, where he set school records in the triple jump and earned DII All-America honors. While there, he also competed in the Junior World Championships for Trinidad & Tobago, where his parents and two older brothers were born. Both experiences were launch pads to bigger dreams: A transfer to Penn State, with its world-class facilities and coaches, and a chance to represent the nation of his roots at the Olympics.

With his academics in order, Waithe adapted to the higher DI competition in no time, winning the Big Ten outdoor title last spring in the triple jump, his top event, and placing fourth in long jump for good measure. He posted top-six finishes in the triple at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, earning All-America status in both events. He’s aiming for more of the same this spring.

As for the Olympics? Waithe says he’s already earned a slot on T&T’s 2016 team; assuming he hits the standard distance, he expects to be in Rio next summer. “It’s becoming less of a goal and more of a reality,” he says. “I just need to keep progressing the way I’ve been progressing. I know I have so much more potential.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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April 30, 2015 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

From The Magazine: Tim Frazier is Back

Expanded content from the pages of The Penn Stater.

We were talking with Tim Frazier a few weeks back in the otherwise quiet practice gym at the Bryce Jordan Center. Off in the far corner, out of camera view, Frazier’s coach, Patrick Chambers, was chugging away on an exercise bike. Frazier started talking, but he got distracted. He tried to ignore the whirrrrr of his coach on the bike, but finally, after about 20 seconds, he couldn’t ignore it anymore.

“I just hear a bike in the background, and it just reminds me…” Frazier said. “When [my teammates] were running and doing sprints, I was on the bike. When they weren‘t doing sprints, I was on the bike.”

He can laugh about it now. Frazier ’13 was talking about the months-long rehab that followed the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered last November, just four games into the 2012–13 season. (And yes, as Frazier mentions, it’s the same injury his older sister suffered while playing for Rice in 2006). A first-team all-Big Ten pick as a junior in 2011–12, Frazier came into last season intending to put himself and his team in the national spotlight. Instead, he watched from the bench in a suit, and spent practice time—hours and hours of practice time—churning away on that bike.

Now, Frazier is back, healthy—”100 percent,” he insists—and eager to make up for lost time.

Frazier was an easy choice for the athlete profile in our November/December issue—not least because he’s so darn good. As a junior, the 6-foot-1 guard from Houston led the Lions in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, becoming the first Penn State player to total at least 500 points, 150 assists, and 50 steals in a season. His 198 assists set a new single-season school record, and he led the Big Ten in steals. Maybe most impressive of all his numbers, his combined field goals and assists accounted for 58 percent of the Lions’ offense—the highest rate in the nation.

He was back on the court this summer during the team’s three-game European tour, the “appetizer” for the season to come. But neither that brief off-season excursion nor the handful of games he played before his injury last season gave fans a sufficient chance to see Frazier make the most of his pairing with DJ Newbill, the former transfer who led Penn State in scoring last year. Together, they give the Lions what Chambers last year predicted would be one of the best backcourts in the nation.

If the coach ends up being anywhere close to right, he might well credit the knowledge Frazier gleaned while watching from the bench last winter. More than once since his injury, Frazier has talked about the benefits of enforced time off the court: ample opportunity to fine tune various aspects of his game, and being forced to think and observe like a coach (oh, and he also finished his degree).

Frazier makes a great point, too, about his teammates: “Everybody got better.” For all the expectations that Frazier will come back at least as good as the do-everything all-Big Ten pick of two seasons ago, he’s surrounded by a supporting cast that, he hopes, will be much more than just a “supporting cast.” Regardless, we’re excited to see him out there. And it sounds like Frazier is just happy to be off the bike.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 24, 2013 at 9:47 am 1 comment


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