Meet Corey McClintock
By Meredith Foster Ristic
Corey McClintock is the definition of a renaissance man.
Except, of course, she's a woman. The senior from Black Mountain is pursuing a double major in chemistry and creative writing, plays the banjo, loves to study Appalachian history and throws the hammer – really far.
She didn’t start out throwing the hammer really well. In fact, she didn’t start out throwing it at all.
“When Corey first came to us, we had no idea what we were going to get,” said UNC Asheville'sthrows coach, Joel Williams. “You never know how people are going to develop.”
McClintock became a Bulldog after a few years as a North Carolina School of Science and Math Unicorn. She first contacted Asheville's track and field team requesting to be a walk-on as a 200-and 800-meter sprinter.
“My coach from NCSSM, David Ritchie, was a huge part of the reason I care about track as much as I do. He cared about my life outside of school and track, and he’s had a big impact on me.”
In high school, she had run the 200-and 400-meter dashes and competed in cross country for a season.
“I thought that I was going to do like a lot of sprinters do, and move up in distance when I came to college. I remember I was going to really focus on the 800 meters,” McClintock said.
While being a successful college athlete isn’t easy, she had additional factors to deal with. Just before she came to Asheville, McClintock underwent complete knee reconstructive surgery.
“My senior year of high school I had five knee surgeries. When I came to college off of that I was really slow,” McClintock laughed. “Slower than I would have been anyway in a Division I program.”
Like many freshmen, McClintock had a tough rookie year, and when her sprinting did not improve in her sophomore season, she started thinking about other options.
“I had been eyeing the throwers all the time, and fancying that I was going to be this great shot putter,” she said. “I would think to myself, ‘I could throw that farther than all these people, I used to bale hay and shovel manure.’”
Her confidence was not enough to carry her in the event.
“I turned out to be really terrible at shot put,” McClintock said. “I threw it the first time at a meet and it went maybe six meters. There’s so much more technique than I thought. So that wasn’t exactly encouraging.”
While she continued to sprint, McClintock continued to be interested in the throwing events.
“There was one meet my sophomore year where I did a terrible sprinting job again, so I just begged coach to let me focus on the throwing events,” McClintock said.
And just like that, in the middle of her sophomore year in college, she became a thrower.
“I was in love with it the moment I started it,” she said. “It was cool to be able to love track again after hating every race I was in.”
She began her throwing career with a crash course in hammer throwing from her teammate, Kurt Hibert.
“I had just recently gone through the beginner’s process that previous summer. I just tried to help her with all the basics that I’d been through,” Hibert said. “And, she took to it pretty well.”
Corey finished her sophomore year with a new interest and huge learning curve to make up in the throwing events. While she continued to improve, the turning point in her career occurred while studying abroad in Scotland.
“When I first found out she was going to Scotland, I thought it was a terrible idea,” Hibert said. “I thought all of the work we put in with drills would go down the drain. But, it was the complete opposite. It showed me how dedicated she was to getting better.”
She deviated from her practice plan, and it ended up being possibly the best mistake she could have made.
“I went out one evening to throw before it started on my practice plan. When I got there I noticed there was someone else throwing at the opposite end of the field,” she said. “He came over and said, ‘Well, let’s see you throw.’”
He later introduced himself as Chris Black, an Olympian who had represented Great Britain in the hammer throw in two consecutive Olympic Games.
“He told me that he wasn’t coaching anyone anymore, that it would be a one-time practice, but he called me a few days later and ended up coaching me for the rest of the semester,” McClintock said.
The following fall, McClintock impressed everyone early. Although most of her improvement came from the throwing cage, she also worked hard in the weight room.
“She had made huge strength gains,” Hibert said. “The coaches and I were really excited for her because it meant she could throw a lot further.”
And she did. Competing unattached in her red-shirt 2013 season, she started off her season with a personal best of 46.38 meters at the Raleigh Relays.
“All of Corey’s success comes from the hard work that she puts into the event,” Williams commented. “She has an amazing work ethic, and she is willing to put in hours and hours to getting better.”
After her red-shirt season, she returned to compete for the Bulldogs in the 2014 indoor and outdoor seasons. At first, she struggled to find her rhythm.
“She started out having sort of a rocky season, and I was nervous for her,” Hibert said. “But, in outdoor, especially these last couple months, everything has just started clicking.”
For five meets straight, McClintock has set a personal best and a new school record. Her most recent PR of 51.31 meters landed her a second-place podium finish in the Big South Conference Championships.
“She’s really been working a lot with Joel, and I’m really happy to see all of her hard work over the years start to pay off,” Hibert said. “It’s so cool to think where she started and see her finally achieving her goals.”
Anyone can tell by watching her in the ring that McClintock was always destined to be a great hammer thrower. But you have to sit down and have a conversation with her to know she’s a great hammer thrower who studies chemistry, rides horses, can squat twice her body weight and listens to folk music.