Olympic Javelin Legend Kate Schmidt to Coach at Occidental College
Kathryn “Kate” Schmidt, nicknamed “Kate the Great” for her decade-long reign as America’s greatest female javelin thrower, has been named to coach the men’s and women’s throwers at Occidental College.
Schmidt is a three-time Olympian who won bronze medals in the 1972 and 1976 Games. From 1972-77, she tallied seven national titles and the last of Schmidt’s nine American records still stands – a 227-foot, 5-inch throw set in 1977 in Furth, Germany. During her years dominating the event, Schmidt raised performance expectations in the women’s javelin, shattering the American record of 198 feet, 8 inches.
Schmidt, 46, is an Eagle Rock resident who trained at Occidental for the 1984 Olympics. She will work with the College’s two javelin throwers - seniors Laura Swanson of Columbus, Ohio, and Scott Rees of Santa Maria, Calif. - in preparation for the start of competition in February. Under Schmidt’s tutelage, Swanson is expected to be a strong candidate this season to compete in the NCAA heptathlon championship, which includes a javelin competition.
“To have a person on the staff with the kind of athletic credentials she holds is exciting in its own right,” track and field coach Troy Engle says. “But even more exciting is her enthusiasm and passion about the event. The kind of excitement that she’s generated among the athletes is unparalleled. She’s got instant credibility and instant name recognition. This is clearly not only Occidental’s gain, but it’s the sport of track and field’s gain.”
The addition of Schmidt is a new chapter in Occidental’s long and successful history in Division III track and field. Past javelin competitors include Jack Kemp, an all-league thrower who also was an all-league quarterback at Oxy before going on to a Hall of Fame career playing for the Buffalo Bills in the American Football League. Schmidt will coach a highly specialized discipline that can take athletes years to perfect.
“It’s a very technical event,” Schmidt says. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. You have to put the speed together with the strength, with the timing, with the flexibility. The combination of that requires very high-level work, which is why I love the event. I’m very excited about coming to Oxy. There seems to be a very good vibe there right now, and there’s a lot of energy to build the program up.”
Schmidt’s days as a competitive athlete span two decades. In 1980, she was a member of the boycotting 1980 Olympics team and, in 1984, she just missed making the games after finishing fourth in the qualifying trials. From 1972-84, Schmidt finished among the top three competitors at every national championship except for 1982, when she was fourth. In 1994, Schmidt was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
After suffering her own sports-related injuries, she founded Home Bodies in 1982, a company that provides physician-supervised rehabilitation exercise programs in a pool or on land. Schmidt is a sought after expert for water exercise publications, and has been a consultant for two books on the subject, “The Complete Water Healing and Waterpower Workout” and “The Water Workout Recovery Program.”
In addition to her Oxy duties, Schmidt is the water exercise instructor for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena. She is a former assistant coach for the Beverly Hills High School track team. Schmidt attended UCLA and graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film.