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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Labonté not slowing down after undefeated season

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Shot put thrower Julie Labonté found her place last year as a sophomore in the UA history books, setting the Arizona record and becoming the best thrower in the nation.

Coming off of an undefeated year and a summer appearance at the International Association of Athletics Federations in Daegu, South Korea, Labonté broke her own school record with a mark of 59-1.25 feet at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. last month.

“I’m at a point where I feel like I am ready to push myself harder than ever,” Labonté said. “After going to Korea and throwing against all my idols, it’s all become very real.”

Originally from Sainte-Justine in Quebec, Canada, Labonté grew up in a small town and spent her summers playing sports. Her father initially encouraged her to try shot put. Previously, Labonté had delved into other sports, such as volleyball, basketball and softball, but the rush individual competition excited her most.

“I initially thought I might stay in Canada, but after competing and realizing I had a shot I began to look at the U.S. as a big opportunity,” Labonté said, “It came down to my connection between me and the coaches and the team.”

Labonté’s said her decision to become a Wildcat was not easy. Hailing from a primarily French-speaking family, Labonté was initially overwhelmed by the large student population, dorm life and speaking only English.

“I’ve really grown up here in Arizona without my parents,” Labonté said. “Adjusting to life as a foreign student athlete was not easy. Luckily, I think I am very sociable and made the effort to make friends.”

The Canada native is constantly on the move as she tackles struggles like time management and the pursuit of professional shot put throwing while remembering her responsibilities in the classroom.

“I really admire Julie,” said teammate Brigetta Barrett. “She’s one of my best friends on the team and she’s my family. We’re both far from home and offer support systems for one another.”

Not only has Labonté made an impression on her teammates, but her coaches just as glad to have her at the university.

“Julie’s really excelled here,” head coach Fred Harvey said. “As coaches, we need to make this place home for athletes like her and it’s important to remember that everything is a new experience. We do need her to perform well so we can succeed as a team, but we look not to overuse her so she can focus on long term dreams too.”

Labonté has already earned her bid to the NCAA Championships and is looking to the summer Olympic games tryouts as her biggest challenge yet.

“Everything is possible,” Labonté said. “Coming here has presented so many opportunities, it wouldn’t make sense not to go for it.”

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