Fatherly to compete in 2020 Olympic trials

Rachel Fatherly competes in the shot put while attending Penn State. The 2012 Williamsport grad is set to compete at the 2020 Olympic trials.

As a child, the dream took shape. Maybe it seemed far-fetched, but the dream never faded. One day, she could become an Olympian.

Huge high school success followed, but it was not until college that Rachel Fatherly truly believed her dream might come true. And now the dream seems more within reach than ever before.

Fatherly qualified last February to compete in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in the shot put. The 2012 Williamsport High School and 2016 Penn State graduate also competed in the 2016 trials but has grown stronger since then and seems more prepared after the previous learning experience. The childhood dream is alive and well and keeps pushing Fatherly each day.

“It’s been a dream in the back of my mind since I was 7,” Fatherly said. “Once I hit different marks in college I thought it could become a reality if I constantly focus, trust God and have a coach who can help me achieve the things I want to and enable me to keep growing and getting better.”

Fatherly has found such a coach in Dane Miller, a trainer who has worked with past Olympians. Miller also is a Penn State graduate and works with Fatherly in Reading. Since Fatherly began training through Miller’s Garage Strength Gym, she has watched her shot put distances consistently increase. With the trials still two years away, that is especially encouraging.

Fatherly already has achieved so much and increased both her strength and focus since the 2016 trials. Now, the best might still be coming.

“I’m mentally a lot stronger than I was competing at the trials. Each year competing at the Indoor and Outdoor championships has helped me learn from different mistakes and do things differently,” Fatherly said. “I accomplished a lot through college but I felt like there was a lot more that I wanted to do. I searched for the best coach who could work with me and I met him and talked to him and we talked about where I would like to go in the future. He’s not only helped me throwing, but helped with mobility and strength levels tremendously.”

Fatherly qualified for the Olympic trials when she threw 55-feet, 1/4 inches at February’s Indoor Track and Field championships. Fatherly placed seventh and the top 16 finishers qualify. When Fatherly threw at the 2016 trials, she placed 15th. The top three advance to the Olympics and Fatherly keeps progressing. she has had some throws go into the 57-58-feet range and can use the next two years tweaking her technique, increasing her strength and looking for ways to keep her distances increasing.

Following the Indoor championships, Fatherly basically went back to the lab. She follows a regimented daily routine and is happy with the progress she continues making.

“We do yoga and work with meditation and prayer and that helps relax you in all aspects of life. I work every night so it will be natural,” Fatherly said. “I tend to get a little anxious with technical changes and want to see the end result immediately. He (Miller) assures me it will get there. We want to get all the technical things down now and he says during outdoor season it will all be there when I need it.”

It certainly was last year when Fatherly consistently produced excellent throws. She continues trending upward along a journey that started in seventh grade. Fatherly used the glide technique when she first started throwing before switching to the rotational technique as a sophomore. And that was when Fatherly really started soaring much like her throws.

By her junior year, Fatherly finished third in the state. Fatherly’s high school masterpiece came as a senior when she won both the 2012 shot put and discus championships. Earlier that year, Fatherly also concluded a stellar scholastic basketball career and topped 1,000 points.

Fatherly earned a scholarship to Penn State and quickly emerged as one of the country’s elite throwers. By 2015, Fatherly placed seventh at the Indoor NCAA Championships and earned All-American honors. She set two school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put and achieved top 10 all-time distances in the weight throw, discus and hammer throw. She capped a decorated collegiate career by receiving USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor Mid-Atlantic Region Female Field Athlete of the Year.

What might have been a tremendous end to a brilliant track and field career, however, was really just the beginning. Fatherly hoped to become an elite college athlete and she did. But that was not the dream. The dream was to become and Olympian so the work continued.

It still does now. North Mountain Pastures is sponsoring Fatherly’s quest for an Olympic berth and that lifts a burden. Fatherly can now focus on her goal and getting better each day. Really, that is how she has lived her entire life, whether excelling in school, on the court or on the field.

That already has carried Fatherly so far. Now the hope is that it carries her all the way to Tokyo in 2020. That is where she hopes this dream finally comes true.

“We have small goals that we set and then once we hit them, we take the next step and then see where we are. We are constantly working on technical changes so that we are constantly moving forward.

“The hard work has paid off, but I still have a lot left in the tank.”