Ashland track and field's Megan Tomei volunteers time teaching 40 Marines how to throw shot put
Megan Tomei is pretty busy these days.
Ashland's senior thrower is competing in her last season as an Eagle, and is part of Ashland's online MBA program. She also, however, found time recently to work with the United States Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. — work which included teaching them how to throw the shot put.
"I've always had this dream to work with them," said Tomei, who earned her undergraduate degree at Ashland in both Exercise Science and Social Work.
Ashland head coach Jud Logan set Tomei up with one of the best throwers in program — and NCAA Division II — history in Adriane Blewitt Wilson, who lives in South Carolina. Everything was put in motion for Tomei to go south and work with the Marines.
Megan Tomei is in her final season competing on the track and field team, and is working on her MBA.— Ashland University Eagles (@goashlandeagles) April 10, 2018
She recently, however, found time in her busy schedule to work with Marines in North Carolina.#EagleNationSpotlight: https://t.co/fBtGGexi1c pic.twitter.com/zrDhgPCVZf
Tomei ended up working with 40 throwers, both active and non-active duty, for a little more than a week.
"It was an awesome opportunity," Tomei said. "It's all about who you know. Obviously, coach Logan helped me out a lot in that. I talked to Adriane more about it, and I visited her a couple times. I'm very grateful for having Adriane and these other people to work with.
"The mentality that these guys have is like no other. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. I'm really happy that I took it. They've asked me to come back already because of how well I did coaching, so that was exciting. After the first time I did it, I realized all the things I'd make better for the next time. I'm excited to go do it again."
Tomei appreciated her pupils wanting to learn how to throw.
"It's awesome, because it just shows you how an individual sport…everything you can get from that and what you can carry on to the real world," she said. "After coaching the Marines, I realized something bigger than simply coaching the event of shot put. I was able to truly grasp the underlying meaning that throwing created to transition these men's and women's lives into the real world. The positive mindset, the perseverance, handling things you never thought would come your way, criticism, fear, being humble, and never ever give up."
Logan applauds Tomei for the time she took to be with the Marines, given all of her other responsibilities at the school and with the team.
"She reminds me that the mark and the legacy that you leave in a program is not measured by the number of All-Americans," Logan said. "Her time has been one of ups and downs and struggles, and every time, she's come out the other end stronger.
"These kids give back so much to the program. Throwers will contact me three years later and say, 'I have my hammer glove and my shoes and my belt and my straps…do you have any kids in the program (who need them)?' That's more reflective of who Adriane Blewitt Wilson is, and that's going to be reflective of who Megan becomes. It doesn't just happen in track – Ashland people take care of Ashland people, and that's why it's still my home."
Tomei, who missed all of the 2017 outdoor season due to injury, is back for her final outdoor campaign, and it has been a strong start. She ranks No. 4 in NCAA Division II in the women's shot put (15.44 meters/50-feet-8), and No. 10 in the country in the women's hammer throw (56.39 meters/185-feet-0).
"I feel like the first week was a very bad representation," Tomei said. "There was a lot of good stuff leading up to it, so I'm really looking forward to this upcoming season.
"I'm honestly just blessed to be able to throw and not be injured. I've been working for a national championship for quite some time now, so that's an end goal. I'm really happy with where I am health-wise now."
Not only is Tomei working for herself, but she also is guiding the next wave of Eagle women's throwers – juniors Natalie Helenthal and Mackenzie Leigh, redshirt freshman Gianna DiPippo, and five true freshmen currently redshirting in Lindsay Baker, Taylor Kroll, Carrol Pauley, Makayla Pop and Elizabeth Weimer.
"I was the only freshman girl, and it was really exciting for me, because I had a lot of upperclassmen to look up to," Tomei said of her beginnings at Ashland. "Now, as we kind of transition into new roles, and I'm one of the older leaders now…it's exciting, because the girls are doing really well.
"I've tried to help them out and lead them along the way."
Said Logan, "She is somebody who strengthens our program having her back, but she strengthened our program whether or not she ever throws for us again. And what she's going to do five years and 10 years from now is going to positively reflect on her time here.
"She's just a good human."