Jan. 26, 2012
Tennessee thrower Matthew Hoty deservedly earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance at last weekend's Auburn Invitational. Not only did he break the UT freshman indoor shot put record he set a week before, launching the ball 60-0 ¼, he also achieved the mark he had been hoping to hit - the 60-foot plateau.
A redshirt freshman from Sandusky, Ohio, Hoty had not competed for more than a year before he uncorked a toss of 58-7 ½ at the Kentucky Invitational on Jan. 14 to topple the 58-7 Vol rookie mark that Chip Kell established back in 1968. Hoty feels that he is still easing back into his competition mindset during this young 2012 campaign.
The Big Orange throws standout will join his Tennessee teammates, as they compete at the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge this weekend in College Station, Texas. He took time this week to answer a few questions after practice.
When did you know you wanted to compete in track & field?
"I started track and field in fifth grade because my dad wanted me to do it. I've done other sports, but track has always been my favorite sport, even since fifth grade."
When did you start training to throw and begin to do strength training for it?
"After seventh grade, I got serious about it. That's when I decided I wanted to be good at throwing shot put. That's when I start lifting a lot and focusing on what I was doing."
At what point did you realize you might be able to get a college scholarship?
"I won state my sophomore year, and at that point I felt like I could really do something with it."
What is it like working with Coach John Frazier?
"I love Coach Frazier. He's the reason I'm here. I picked Tennessee mainly for Coach Frazier, and he hasn't disappointed."
What made you decide to become a Tennessee Volunteer?
"Coach Frazier is the coach that I wanted. I had a lot of other options, but Tennessee was a good mix academically, and the athletic department here is awesome. The track team is up-and-coming, and I thought that was kind of cool to be a part of it."
Do you have a favorite meet or venue?
"I haven't really thrown enough places because this is my first year traveling, but last weekend [at Auburn] would probably be my favorite. It's my PR place right now."
You are pretty active on Twitter. When did you really get into sending Tweets?
"I guess towards the end of last year, my roommate and I got bored and started trying to find things to do, and we got on Twitter and got addicted to it."
Do you have any pre-throw or pre-meet superstitions or rituals?
"I try not to be superstitious, but I have a pre-throw routine that I do before. Three people who throw before me I have something that I do. I say a little prayer. I have things I say to myself. I have a routine before I throw. I walk out in the circle. I try to eat a sub sandwich the night before. That's always something that I've done since high school. I try to do it as much as I can, and I can't always. It doesn't freak me out not to."
Any specific tunes you like to listen to prior to competing?
"Not specific. It's just whatever comes up."
Your hair is a very distinguishing feature. I noticed in last year's photo you had short hair. What's the story behind growing it out? Have you had that hairstyle before and how much prep time does it require?
"I've always had big hair, ever since sixth grade. In high school, I'd won state my sophomore and junior year, and I made a dare with one of the swimmers. I'd won state, now it was his turn to go win state. And he won, so he got to shave it after he won. It took about six months to grow it back out."
What's it like being a thrower at UT with the throws corps we have?
"It's pretty great with Coach Frazier. On the guy's side, we're very young. We're all going to grow up together, and it should be fun the next couple of years."
What's your favorite thing about throwing?
"It's that I put what I want into it. I want to be good, so I go out, and I work hard and lift and watch video. I don't have to rely on anybody else. It's all what I want to do. It's all about doing better than I've ever done before and breaking barriers."
Do fans and cheering affect your throw at all?
"I love it when people start cheering. That's probably the best part. I love when they cheer for me."
You grew up near the famed Cedar Point theme park. Did you go there very often growing up? If so, what is your favorite roller coaster?
"Yeah. My favorite is probably the Raptor. I like the Raptor a lot."
What do you like to do in Knoxville when you aren't in class or training?
"When I'm not doing anything else, I just rest. We don't get a lot of down time, so I just sleep a lot and hang out. I'm sure there are lots of things to do around here. I can go to Gatlinburg, but I like the free time I have."
What's your favorite sport to play, or just watch, other than throwing?
"If I had to watch another sport, I'd like to watch football. I like a lot of the NBA stuff, but I'd probably watch football. I never really played it, but I enjoy watching it."
Who are some athletes you admire?
"The professional shot putters right now: Christian Cantwell, Reese Hoffa, and Adam Nelson. It's kind of cool because they're all so different, and you get to watch them right now throwing very far three different ways. It shows you that you can do it your way, and you just have to keep working at it, like they all did."
Do you have any nicknames?
"I don't think so. Everybody just calls me Hoty."
What's something interesting about you that people may not know?
"I don't know. I don't really hide many things. I don't know what people really know about me. The most interesting thing about me is probably shot put. I'm not very interesting besides the fact that I can throw a 16-pound shot really far."
What would be on the dinner table and who would be there if you were having your kind of meal?
"My favorite meal is a sub sandwich, and I have it quite a bit. I eat subs a lot. My favorite sub is the chicken breast sub. Being away from home, eight hours away from home, being able to sit down with my parents would be great, since I don't get to see them a lot."
What was it like coming into your first collegiate meet and breaking a freshman record? Did you expect it?
"It was mixed feelings. I didn't really know what to expect. I had redshirted last year and I had a broken wrist the second half of my last season in high school, so I hadn't really competed in a really long time. I warmed up super well, and when I threw my first couple of throws, I knew they weren't like my warm up throws, they weren't as good. I knew they were good throws, but they weren't awesome. Last weekend, I threw a good throw, and I thought, `Yes! I got it!' but the first meet wasn't as good."
You came back in week two and toppled the 60-foot mark and raised the record again. How satisfying was that?
"60 feet was what I wanted to hit the first meet, so when I did it, it was like getting the monkey off my back. Now I don't have to think about a number. I can just think about getting better and improving for the NCAAs."
You had some injuries coming to college and redshirted last season. Was it beneficial for you to have that year to get healthy, adjust to college and hit the weights? Did you just want to get started?
"I wanted to get started, very much so. Coach Frazier, the smarter man of us, told me I had to cool my jets and wait it out. I was going to throw outdoors last year, and then the week of the first meet, I pulled my pectoral, and it was a sign. It said to me, `You're not throwing this year. Just rest it out.' And it ended up being the best thing I could do. I started practicing throwing in November and was throwing until the first week of March, and I thought I was ready. I was ready mentally, maybe not physically, but then I hurt myself again and decided not to rush it. Might as well use the redshirt now."
Do you think you became "rusty" in terms of being competition-ready? Have you shaken that off now?
"Definitely. Usually I like to be very fiery and energetic, and it's been so long that it was hard to get in that state. Last week was a little better, but it wasn't what it used to be. Hopefully this week I can put it together."
What are your expectations for the season?
"I have some numbers in my head that I want to hit. I'm out competing, so it'll look different in college because you actually have to hit a number to go to regionals and NCAAs. I just want to make sure I go to SECs and compete the best I can. I may not throw my best, but I want to make sure I'm battling for first."