Title proves Perry’s doubters wrong
April 6, 2017
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His motto is “train for excellence, achieve greatness.” Adopting that mentality has propelled UW-Whitewater track and field thrower, senior Levi Perry, to achieve something in most athlete’s dreams.
What started as simply something to do in junior high, track and field has not only become a passion for Perry, but something he can call himself a National Champion in. Perry captured the weight throw national championship with a career-best throw of 19.67 meters in the 2017 Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships March 10.
Although Perry started track and field in junior high, he eventually left the sport. His reunion with track field came when he transferred to United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois.
There he met head track coach Bob Feller who saw something in Perry.
“I was the head track coach, and his locker was right by my room,” Feller said. “So, I would stand and supervise the hallway, and I got to know him. He was a good-looking athlete, so I said, ‘Hey, have you ever tried track?’.”
After some conversing, Feller got Perry to go out for the high school track team.
Perry enjoyed success in high school track and field. He earned all-state honors, and decided to play collegiately at Monmouth College in Illinois.
After a year at Monmouth Perry felt like he needed an “upgrade.” So, he decided to transfer to UW-Whitewater, a place where he felt like he would have a better track, academic and social life.
For a student-athlete from Illinois, UW-W might not be the most obvious choice, but Perry said he got a firsthand look at the university when he was at Monmouth.
“I had a track meet here my freshman year and got the chance to see the trophies, the facilities,” Perry said. “At the time, I was a business major, and I got to see how good the business major was at the school.”
With Perry being able to call himself a national champion, the decision to transfer to Whitewater worked out well. The title also proved some of his doubters wrong.
“I was always told ‘you’re not going to be the elite athlete,’” Perry said. “You’re just not big enough, fast enough, strong enough, whatever it was. It [the national championship] was a way to prove everyone wrong and get out of some shadows.”
Not all the obstacles faced were outside forces for Perry. Sometimes, like with most athletes who are trying to achieve the pinnacle of their sport, frustration occasionally got the better of Perry early in his career.
“When you put so much pressure on yourself and you’re trying to do one thing and then it doesn’t happen, it can kind of just drive you crazy,” Perry said.
Through hard work and experience, Perry said he has become much more composed and consistent throughout the years. Instead of focusing on results, he looks to master his craft instead. The cool composure Perry possess as a senior may have been one of the biggest contributing factors to his title.
Perry cited his competition at the 2017 Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, when an unexpected competitor took first place. Instead of trying to do too much, something he may have down a year pervious, Perry said he kept a level-head and took the lead on his next throw.
Assistant coach David Hahn is someone that Perry said has helped him thoughout the years and recruited him to UW-W.
“Coming in, it was all new and a change to him,” Hahn said. “I think he struggled initially, but I think he’s fit in well with the group. I think he’s worked really hard the last couple of years.”
One of biggest strengths for Perry, according to Hahn, has been his concentration.
“He’s really had singular focus,” Hahn said. “I think last year he saw there was potential, and since leaving the national meet last year at indoors, his goal was to win. You could see that he put everything into winning a national championship this year.”
Perry’s drive to win was evident even in high school.
“He had the desire, he had the passion to compete and train,” Feller said. “I knew that was there.”
For most athletes, a championship win comes at the end of season, which can be followed by reflection and appreciation. For Perry, the end of his indoor championship means the start of the outdoor season, which leaves little time for him to enjoy his accomplishments.
“I’m trying to take most reflection time off the table because I don’t just want to be fat and happy with it,” Perry said.