'She's a very explosive athlete': University thrower Addy MacArthur has sights set on school records, more state championships

Apr. 30—When can looks be deceiving?

Take, for example, rising University High School discus and shot put specialist Addy MacArthur. At 5-foot-5, the U-Hi junior doesn't have the prototype height to throw the platter or the ball of steel.

When college track and field coaches look for female throwers, they ideally want athletes who are 5-8 to 5-10.

For a time, size didn't matter for MacArthur, who thought soccer would be the sport to take her to college. After all, MacArthur was playing on an elite travel team and competing all over the West.

"I thought soccer was my calling," MacArthur said.

ACL injuries on each knee, though, forced her to pivot and quit soccer.

Little did MacArthur know that the replacement sport was right in front of her nose the whole time. She may not have found it had fate not forced a detour.

Her father, Philip MacArthur, threw in high school and eventually earned a scholarship at Washington State throwing the hammer. But he stayed in the shadows initially.

"I've always looked at it like I wanted my kids to love sports," Philip said. "I learned so many lessons about life through sports. That's all I wanted for them. I wanted them to love it and enjoy it."

Addy MacArthur was playing soccer as a center defender/midfielder at an elite level on a traveling team. She tore her left ACL in a tournament in Seattle and then a little more than a year later tore her right ACL in a tournament in Las Vegas.

"I decided that if I'm going to tear my ACL again it's going to be a different sport," MacArthur said. "It broke my heart. My first ACL, it was pretty hard for me to control my emotions. I was very depressed. It was during COVID and I was stuck at the house and not able to do anything."

MacArthur was doing a poor job rehabbing after the first tear, forcing her surgeon to go in and bend her knee all the way back and straighten it because scar tissue had built up. She learned from the first tear and attacked her recovery on the second one.

MacArthur was in the midst of rehabbing from the second surgery when she turned out for track her freshman year. Because of limited mobility, she had to do stand-alone throws.

She fell in love with weightlifting, and it has become an important part of her training — in some ways more important than mastering technique. The combination of athleticism and quickness from soccer started working in harmony with strength and power gained from lifting.

She and her father arise at 4:30 each morning and go to the gym to lift for an hour except on days of meets.

"She told me she wanted to throw in college," Philip said. "So I told her, 'If you're going to do it, this is the game plan. You've got to do more than other people are willing to.' "

When MacArthur steps into the throwing ring, the muscle definition is obvious.

The improvement from her freshman to sophomore year was immediate. She ended up winning a State 3A title in the discus and was runner-up in the shot put last spring.

U-Hi coach Todd Hawley asked MacArthur what her goals were going into this season. He was encouraged by her response.

"She didn't talk about winning state titles. She wanted to focus on school records," Hawley said.

They were old records. MacArthur broke the 33-year-old discus mark at the Pasco Invite, winning with a toss of 140 feet, 3 inches — breaking the 135-2 set by Misty Blakesley in 1991.

She also won the shot put at Pasco. Her career best in the shot is 43-4 3/4 , also done at Pasco. The record she's chasing is 44-6 1/2 set by Dana McClendon in 2006.

"She's a hard-working tactician," Hawley said. "She's very disciplined. She brings her lunch pail to practice every day."

U-Hi throws coach Bill Berg knows a record throw in the shot put is coming at any time. As a 58-year coach, Berg, 81, has been around to see the best throws in the Greater Spokane League.

While MacArthur has some distance to gain in both throws before she's at the top of the list, Berg is confident she will get there.

"She's been working really hard," said Berg, the former head coach at Central Valley when the Bears were loaded with athletes, and a former assistant at Mead. "She's pretty arm weary right now. We'll probably have her taper down and get some more life out of her."

Berg gives MacArthur's father space to coach. He appreciates his knowledge and experience.

"Throws are kind of funny in that you can walk out of practice one day and feel good about how you're doing and then the next day something creeps in," Berg said. "There's never a time you don't have something to work on."

MacArthur is the complete package. She gets the job done in the classroom and it's seen in her 3.9-grade point average.

She's receiving recruiting interest from WSU, Princeton, Miami and Cincinnati. More is likely to come after the state meet later this month.

First she wants to finish the season strongly and sweep the throws at state — her unspoken goals but goals nonetheless.

"She's a very explosive athlete," Philip said. "She can jump pretty high. She has natural ability that other people don't have."

It wouldn't surprise him if his daughter inches close to 50 feet in the shot and 160 in the discus next year.

"I don't think she's even close to her potential," he said. "She's got the ability whether it all comes together."

When athleticism, strength, explosiveness and technique meet at the same intersection, watch out.

"She's purely doing it on athletic ability right now," Philip said.

Addy MacArthur wants to spend some time this summer at the Ironwood Throwers complex in Rathdrum. She is thankful for all the instruction she's received.

"It's so nice to get different perspectives and different queues from other coaches," she said. "My love for the sport really motivates me. I love it so much I want to be the best at it. It's fun for me to see the improvement."