June 4, 2009
THE CORONADO FILE
Who: Katie Coronado
Hometown: Ruidoso, N.M.
Birthdate: Sept. 13, 1986
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Katie Coronado has a secret passion. Well, maybe it's not all that secret. But the best javelin thrower in the history of Lobo women's track can't help but look over at The Pit, feel that old itch, and wonder "What if?"
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a pro in basketball. Basketball was my favorite," said the only Lobo, male or female, to ever win two NCAA Regional titles. "I thought about walking on here several times. I still do.
"I never got to play in The Pit in high school. Our state games were always somewhere else. Who doesn't want to play in The Pit? I can't say not trying out (at UNM) is a regret. But I still feel the passion for basketball."
Coronado played basketball at Ruidoso High. She also played soccer, softball, volleyball and threw the spear. Her natural position in basketball was at the point, but when you are 5-foot-11 in Ruidoso, you end up in the paint, under the basket.
"I was really good at the point," said Coronado. "It never made any sense to me to make me play center, well, except that I was tall. So, my skills at the position I needed to play (guard) were never really developed. I would have had to walk on somewhere to play basketball. It's a blessing in some ways that I came to UNM in track."
It was a blessing for the Lobos, too. The UNM senior isn't simply good in the javelin - she is a history maker. Consider just a few of Coronado's highlights as a Lobo:
-- Three Mountain West Conference titles and a runner-up.
-- 2008 NCAA runner-up.
-- UNM record throw at 181 feet.
-- Only Lobo, male or female, with three NCAA All-Region awards.
The ironic thing about Coronado is that she doesn't think she's very good.
"Around here, in Albuquerque, people think I throw far," said Coronado, 22. "It's kind of weird when everyone is telling you that you are good and you know you aren't. I know I don't throw far on a world level."
It's possible that Coronado is being a bit hard on herself. She looks at older women on the national level and doesn't feel she stacks up to their mammoth heaves. She doesn't. But she's not supposed to. Some of those women are more than 10 years older than Coronado -- older, wiser, stronger, pros.
Coronado is a college kid. She's suppose to go out and do things like win MWC titles, win NCAA Regional titles, set school records.
"I guess I'm a little hard on myself," she said. "I've always been kind of a perfectionist. I guess I'm not sure what level I should be at now, but I'm not improving at the pace I want."
"Javelin is not one of those sports where you have to go out there and hate your opponent. It's a chill atmosphere. There are some who are really, really serious, but most of us are just enjoying the day."
Lobo senior Katie Coronado
"When I played football with the guys, I was the one who would throw the Hail-Mary pass," she said. "When I went out for track, I looked at the javelin and thought that would be cool. I went over there and picked one up and threw it and my coach said, `Yeah, you're throwing.'"
Of course, when you are a young athlete picking up a new sport, things don't always go smoothly. Coronado ran into some trouble her sophomore year at Ruidoso. It seems her head was getting in the way of that sharp-pointed object.
"I had changed my technique and I was doing something wrong," she said. "When I would throw, the tail of the javelin would hit me on the side of my head.
"I remember one day in practice it hit me so hard that it made this loud noise and everyone around the track stopped and looked over and saw me go down. I hadn't made a sound, but they heard the javelin bouncing off my head."
Coronado's head has been safe during her time as a Lobo. She will be competing in the NCAA finals June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark. She goes into the meet as the No. 4 seed. When her senior season ends, Coronado is going to "chill," get healthy and come back in the fall to finish her degree.
"It seems like there is always something hurting on me," she said. "I don't know if it's a javelin thing or just me. But I'm going to take a break just to let everything come back the way it's supposed to be."
Now, that doesn't mean that the break from javelin is a permanent thing. Coronado might not realize her dream of going pro in hoops, but she does plan on giving the pro curcuit in track a run.
"I want people to know I'm not through with the javelin," she said. "I plan on continuing and see what happens."