COLUMBIA – A year ago, Festus' Reece Goddard didn’t know anything about discus throwing. Now he is second in the nation for his age bracket and took first place in his competition at the Show-Me State Games.
He has YouTube to thank for that.
Last May, Goddard found an abandoned discus at his brother’s middle school track meet and wanted to learn more about the sport. His school, however, Festus Elementary, didn’t have a track team, so he taught himself by watching YouTube discus-throwing videos on his iPad.
“I’ve probably watched them all,” Goddard said.
After realizing his son’s new talent, Ernie Goddard tried to arrange lessons with a coach from Lindenwood University but was unsuccessful because of scheduling conflicts.
“He’s truly been on his own,” Ernie Goddard said. “Now he shows up at competitions and can critique the other kids’ techniques.”
Besides discus throwing, Reece Goddard has taught himself shot put via YouTube, and frequently posts his football videos on the website.
The hours Reece Goddard spent YouTube surfing have paid off. During his initial backyard practices, he could throw just 50 feet. Before the Show-Me State Games, he said he wanted to throw in the 120-foot range.
“I’ve thrown 125 feet in practice,” he said, “but I can throw farther when there’s people watching.”
Reece Goddard took first place at the Show-Me State Games 11- to 12-year-old boys division by throwing 100 feet, 6 inches. Although Reece Goddard beat his competition by almost 25 feet, he still wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
“I just couldn’t get my head right,” he said after competing.
Next weekend, Reece Goddard is traveling to New Orleans to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics for discus throwing and shot put. Last year he participated in the competition and took second place for discus throwing. His mom, Annette Goddard, said the first-place winner beat him just by inches.
This year, Reece Goddard is determined to bring home the gold medal.
“The kid with the farthest throw is from Texas,” Reece Goddard said. “I’ve been texting him. I know he has three feet on me, but he doesn’t throw very consistent.”
This year Reece Goddard qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics with a throw of 117 feet, bettering the previous best qualifying mark of 112 feet. His goal for the AAU Junior Olympics is to beat the 134-foot record.