Reese, tell us where you first became interested in track and field?
My interest in track and field started in Elementary school ( South Columbia in Evans GA) During P.E, my teacher let every student try to throw the shot put. I was very bad, but I did think it would be cool to learn how to throw a heavy object as far as I could.
Did you play any other sports in high school and where?
I played many sports at Lakeside High School. I played Football four years, two years on the wrestling team, and two years playing baseball. I quit baseball to do track and field my junior and senior years.
How many State titles did you win in the Throws during HS?
I won three titles in high school, 2 in the shot, and 1 discus title.
Where did you compete at collegiately and tell us about your achievements there?
I competed at the University of Georgia, where I was a five-time All-American in the shot put. I won one SEC title my senior year in the shot. Sprinkle in some 2nd's in the shot my freshman through my junior years, because we had some great shot putters in the SEC in the late 90s.
What was your academic focus while in college?
My academic focus while at Georgia was in Health and physical education, I thought I would become a football and track coach in a high school somewhere. Not a 15-year professional track athlete.
When did you turn Pro and walk us through your journey
I turned pro after my senior year of college with a whole lot of people doubted I could be a pro. My mom had to beg the New York Athletic club to even talk with me. Luckily, New York Athletic Club gave me a chance by paying for me to go to indoor and outdoor nationals my first few years as a pro. My first year in 2002 was pretty bad, no one would let me into their meets. I had a regular job taking credit card applications over the phone for Bank of America. My saving grace is I had a friend that let me rent a room at his grandparent's old home for $150 a month. I put more miles on my old Ford Escort than it had legs for and it broke down by the end of the year.
2003: My 2nd year as a pro I had some breakthroughs throwing and NYAC helped get me to Outdoor Nationals, where I made my the world outdoor team finishing last, but gaining valuable experience. I believe that was the year I was forgotten at the London Heathrow airport. The story goes like this: my manager told me to get on a plane I got into the Crystal Palace meeting. Seven hours later I land in England and there is no one there to take me to the meet hotel. I waited around for six hours and then changed over all the money I had in my pocket, which was $30, which got me around 23 English pounds. 5 pounds went to calling my manager on a payphone to ask very aggressively where is my ride and where do I go. 10 pounds to pay for the train ride to Crystal Palace (which was the wrong place) and 8 pounds, (thank you baby Jesus) that got me to the correct hotel. I did ask the directors what happened, their answer was simple, "we did not realize you were coming, and forgot you were added to the meet"
2004 was my breakout year, getting silver at the world indoors and making the Olympic team. Once I made the team, my life got a lot easier and every meet director made sure they took good care of me.
What were the highlights of your Pro career and titles?
I have been very lucky with winning titles. I have a world indoor title in 2006, world outdoor title in 2007, add a peppering of world indoor silvers in 2004 and 2008 and I feel like I did pretty good. Throw in an Olympic bronze in back in 2012 and someday I might be Hall of Fame worthy. I'm also very proud of being ranked in the top three in the world for ten consecutive years. Lastly, as of right now I have the most 69 foot competitions in the history of the sport.
When did you decide to move on from competition and become a coach and mentor?
I decided in 2015 to begin the process of being a coach, it is not the easiest decision but I could see that I was no longer able to keep up with the young guys anymore and I wanted to end my career on my terms.
How has Coronavirus affected your life and family?
It has been a blessing and curse, Blessing, I get to spend a lot more time with my new five-month-old daughter Piper, it has been amazing to watch her grow. The Curse, I cannot work and track season was canceled. Sadly, I had a few athletes that were in line to be state champions for the first time this season.
Tell me about your business at Core Blend in Watkinsville?
I am currently running my Throws academy at Core Blend where I teach kids from sixth grade to high school seniors on how to throw the shot and discus as far as they can. I have been very lucky to have a gym owner, Cory Davis, that believes in throws and how it impacts the lives of young athletes. I also have a massage business that I am running at the local hospital.
Reese, what advice do you have for young Throwers who want to become the best they can be?
The best advice I got that changed my throwing life was from Adam Nelson, and that is to believe in yourself more than all the people that will tell you that you are not good enough. They cannot see your heart and your willingness to do whatever it takes to be great. Lastly, there are a lot of good resources on the internet to find something that speaks to you and helps you become a student of the discipline that you wish to be great in.