If you gave Katie Suiters something – anything – to throw during a Spalding track and field competition the past four years, the results tended to turn out well.
The senior standout from Indianapolis became one of the Golden Eagles’ most successful and versatile athletes by participating in all four field throwing disciplines: discus, shot put, hammer and javelin.
That versatility has helped Suiters, who is receiving her bachelor of science in natural science (BSNS) degree while working toward a master’s in athletic training (MSAT), earn as many on-field accomplishments as any student-athlete who’ll participate in Spalding’s commencement on June 2. This spring she was named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Field Athlete of the Year after winning the league championship in discus and finishing second in shot put, fifth in hammer and sixth in javelin. She also won the SLIAC discus and shot put titles in 2016 and holds multiple school records.
“(Participating in four events for four years in college) was a big opportunity that not many people have,” Suiters said. “I definitely took advantage of it, and I think it’ll definitely be something cool to talk about.”
She laughed and imitated an old lady’s voice, “Back in my day …”
Suiters said discus is probably her best and favorite event. Hammer throw is a “love-hate, but I learned to love it more this year,” she said. Javelin she started throwing just for fun in high school because she could throw a football 60 yards and figured it would be a similar skill.
“I took it and threw it and slapped myself in the back of the head with it,” she said with a laugh. “I said, ‘OK, this is not a football.’ So I watched a lot of YouTube videos and taught myself over the past couple years a lot of basics. I pretty much winged it, but, hey, I did all right at it.”
Suiters credited head coach Bradley Sowder and throws assistant Kyle Jenkins, a former Spalding All-American, for helping her thrive.
“It started off as a challenge (to participate in so many events),” said Suiters, who was Spalding’s only female thrower her freshman year. “But coming here with track, it was a big family. The track team has pretty much built everything (up during my college years). You’ve got people to go to if you need someone. Coach is always a big help for everyone. It was kind of like an area for me to grow, and it’s a big confidence booster to have achieved what I have.”
Suiters’ athletic experience has motivated her to want to become an athletic trainer. She wants to help other athletes feel supported the same way she’s felt with Spalding’s trainers.
“They’ve definitely helped me, and I want to people able to give that back to somebody else,” Suiters said. “I’ve had my share of injuries. I know what you’re going through. I know when you’re faking it. I know when you want to stop and you’re having a bad day but you need to get back out there.”
Suiters will continue at Spalding next year to finish her’s master’s in athletic training. She said she’s confident she’ll be well-trained when she enters the professional world.
“I had the opportunity to go to a lot of places, and I visited many places,” Suiters said. “I have not had a single day that I regretted picking here. I got to experience the city and the downtown atmosphere. You get open to a lot of things because of that. I’ve met so many people, and I have the best friends I’ll ever have in my life. The professors are hands on. You’re not a number, and I love that aspect of it. It’s home.”
More about Katie …
What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My conference meet my sophomore year, I went up for my last throw, and I was the last person to go. I knew I had already won because I was the last person to go, but there was a storm coming in. I went to go throw, and you can see the storm moving toward us and the wind taking everything. The whole team had to stay and Kyle stopped all of them, and they announced my throw, and it was a huge personal record. We all started screaming. As soon as I threw, we all had to leave because it started downpouring. I had to grab all my stuff because I was the only person. I had a javelin, shot put, discus, hammer, all this stuff, and I’m just trying to run down this street to the bus. We all went, ‘Woohoo!’ Then they all took off. Everyone left me. (laughing)
What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of during your time at Spalding?
It would probably be SLIAC Field Athlete of the Year. I never expected that. That’s probably my biggest accomplishment.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The University Center (now called Columbia Gym). You’ve got to go down to the weight room. That’s where all the fun happens. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on there, but there’s also a lot of good conversations that happen between everybody. I love (strength and conditioning coach) Sarah (Clinton) to death.