Track and field shot put team of two creates dynamic duo


Smiling together: The shot put team of two stands proud after completing an afternoon of spring track and field practice. The boys competed during the winter season without any other shot put throwers.

By Aimee Buttenbaum, Sports Editor

A part of the modern Olympics since 1896, shot put has been around for centuries, but during the 2018-19 winter track season, the shot put team consisted of only two people, freshman Johnny Papadopoulos and sophomore captain Ethan Ostroff.

The winter track and field shot put enrollment this year was low, but these two athletes weren’t always alone.

“At first we were a team of four and it was definitely weird going from being a team of four to becoming a team of two because we lost literally half of the team,” Ostroff said.

While Ostroff and Papadopoulos are unsure why the team was so small this season after having two members drop out, one reason might be due to the difficulty level, as ESPN calls it one of the “toughest spring sports.”

“Shot put is a field event in which a metal ball, about the size of a softball, is pushed off one’s shoulder as far as possible,” Papadopoulos said.

When facing off against other teams, junior sprinter Vidya Patel found it odd to watch the boys compete.

“It’s a unique situation for sure,” Patel said. “It’s different especially when the team competes and other schools bring many more people.”

Starting their shot put careers was more of an afterthought.

“I first started shot put in the seventh grade just as a sport to do in the spring to stay in shape for football, but I stopped playing football freshman year,” Ostroff said.

Papadopoulos also picked up the sport in middle school. He began throwing shot put in eighth grade, “for the fun of it.”

As the two joined together this winter track season, this afterthought turned into a love for the sport, as well as what Ostroff believes to be a special relationship with his teammate.

“Johnny and I definitely did form a bond being the only two doing the event because some of our track meets would go on for the entire day, and because the event only takes about 20 minutes, we would end up spending the entire day together waiting for the other events to end,” Ostroff said.

Papadopoulos also attributes their friendship to the team of two.

“Ethan and I have become very close over the past few months,” Papadopoulos said. “It’s crazy to think how last year, he and I practiced at the same (shot put) ring and didn’t know who each other were.”

Not only did this team create a bond, but it also helped to improve the boys’ skills.

“I would say it did help me a lot because being on a team that small and having a coach for just the two of us, it was like having our own personal trainer,” Ostroff said.

With possible new members joining for the spring season, Ostroff will continue to cherish the time he had with Papadopoulos.

“My favorite memory was probably one of our invitationals in New York where it was actually just Johnny and I because our coach couldn’t make it, so we both helped each other with things we can do to throw further on our throws,” Ostroff said.

As the winter season comes to a close, the boys look onto the spring which will have five more athletes joining the shot put team, one of them being a returning spring member, junior Justin Demilio.

“I’m excited to be on the team again and hopefully be able to be more competitive with a bigger team,” Demilio said.

Ostroff and Papadopoulos share the same sentiments as the team transitions to the next season.

Winding up: Freshman Johnny Papadopoulos shoves the metal ball of his shoulder, launching it into the air, landing on the ground within the legal boundaries. Papadopoulos and his teammate Ethan Ostroff began throwing shot back when they were in middle school.