Youth league quarterback now record-setter in javelin

Lisa Johnston |

Sydney Juszczyk struggled when her mom decided it was time for Sydney to end her four-year stint as a quarterback and outside linebacker on her youth football team.

She was in love with the contact sport played almost exclusively by boys, and didn't think it was right that she was told she couldn't play anymore.

Then she took up track and field — following in the footsteps of her dad, Peter Juszczyk, the 1999 Missouri Valley Conference men's outdoor championship winner in the javelin competing for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Her success in the sport — now as a freshman at Trinity Catholic High School — helped her finally forgive her mom. "I was really upset for a really long time. I kept asking her, 'Can I play, can I play, please just one more year, just give me one more. She said, 'Nope'. That's it. Then I finally realized she was right and it's time to move on."

She looks back at the sport fondly and remains a football fan. "I was always on the field. It was really fun," Juszczyk said.

After her focus changed to track and field, she set her sights on the Junior Olympics and the USA nationals. "I forgot about football and wasn't mad anymore," she said.

As an eighth-grader, she won two national championships in the javelin: at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in Kansas and at the AAU Junior Olympics in Michigan. There, she broke the 14-year-old girls national AAU record, throwing 140 feet, 4 inches.

At Trinity Catholic High School, besides the javelin, Juszczyk competes in the triple jump, 4x2 relay and 100-meter hurdles.

In her first javelin throw of the season at Ladue's Brusca/Strobach Invitational, Juszczyk recorded a mark of 161 feet, 8 inches, which won the meet's title and ranked as the second-longest throw of any female high school athlete in the nation this season. Juszczyk also competed in the triple jump at the Ladue meet. She ran at the AAA Relays, winning the 100 hurdles and anchoring the Titans' first-place 800 relay.

Juszczyk qualified for the state meet in javelin with a throw of 149 feet at sectionals.

"I know I'm not the biggest and strongest, so that's why I work extra hard to get where I am," she said. "I always put in double the work (of) anybody else."

Technique helps as well — putting the right steps and movements together to make a good throw. "If you have the perfect steps and leave your arm back with the javelin, it's in the right spot. So you can just wait for the leg to plant, and it all goes so perfect together when you throw. It's just beautiful."

Juszczyk attended Jamestown Elementary and Hazelwood North Middle School. She was attracted to Trinity Catholic for its academics and athletics. She also played on the junior varsity volleyball and basketball teams.

"It's very welcoming," she said of Trinity Catholic. "I made a lot of friends."

Volleyball and basketball were fairly new to her, and she enjoyed both sports, striving to do better. Basketball especially is helpful to her track performances.

The faith aspect at the school is helpful to her in sports as well. "Believing in God and knowing He is there with every time I step on the javelin way or get into the blocks for hurdles is important," Juszczyk said. "I just pray for good outcomes."

Learning more about Jesus in religion classes at Trinity Catholic is a bonus, Juszczyk said. Besides gym class, honors geometry and history were her favorite classes.

She's close to her family, including her brother, Julian, who will be a freshman at Trinity Catholic in the fall. The siblings enjoy riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers and spending time outdoors. 

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