Campbell River’s Hayley Hunter is on top of the javelin world.
Heading into this year’s track and field season, the Grade 11 Carihi student is currently ranked number two in all of Canada and is yet to lose a provincial championship.
Hunter began her foray into javelin when she was in Grade 4 after her music teacher, who was also the coach of the Campbell River Comets track and field team, noticed she had a good arm.
So she picked up a javelin and started practising, and then practising some more.
“One day my dad said ‘if you throw this far, I’ll give you $20,’” Hunter recalls.
She ended up getting more than just the cash.
Throwing the javelin 20.16 metres, it was good enough to not only set a new, all-time record for her age group but it also sealed a first place victory in her first ever provincial championships.
She’s won the provincials every single year since.
Hunter hopes to defend her title once again this July.
It means practices three days a week with her club, the Comox Valley Cougars, which is based in Courtenay. Once summer begins, training ramps up to every day of the week.
It’s a big commitment but Hunter says it’s worth it and she has no intention of slowing down.
“It’s independent and once you achieve something, you know it’s because of your own hard work,” Hunter says. “It’s rewarding and it’s also taught me to be my own person. It’s something that can take me somewhere.”
With all of her accomplishments, it’s not unrealistic to think that post-secondary institutions will come knocking.
Last year, Hunter shattered the Vancouver Island High School Track and Field Championships’ javelin record, hurling the javelin 38.91 metres.
She followed that up with another record breaking throw, this time at the BC High School Track and Field Championships, with a winning mark of 40.92 metres. Hunter has also competed in the national championships, placing second as an underaged thrower.
Hunter says it’s the excitement of winning and beating her own personal bests that keeps her going.
Her competitive nature has also led to success in hockey and soccer.
Hunter was an integral part of an Island Elite hockey team while she was in middle school, playing for a spring league team based out of Parksville that achieved a Western Canada championship title.
Prior to that, she played for the local rep soccer teams.
This year, she joined soccer mogul John Jepson’s Carihi senior girls A soccer team.
“It’s my first year of being a full-time goalie,” Hunter says. “I volunteered before for the junior team and it always made me super nervous but Jepson calmed me down about it.”
She’s also gotten tips from a fellow classmate who plays for the Riptide in the Vancouver Island Premier Soccer League. It’s been a winning combination.
The Carihi team recently won the Investors Group Plate at a tournament hosted by Carihi earlier this month and the team, backed by Hunter, has won all but one of its games this season.
Hunter says being the keeper has parallels to javelin.
“The goalie is independent, like javelin, but with a team,” she says. “It’s a rush of adrenaline, it always keeps you focused because you’re always having to watch the play. And you can use your hands when nobody else can.”
She still gets nervous but Hunter says that’s a good thing.
“My nerves help because it keeps me on top of things; I’m more reactive.”
But as much as she enjoys soccer, her main love is javelin. And she intends to go with it as far as she can and keep improving.
“My form has changed a lot,” says Hunter who has evolved from using only her arms, to pulling her energy from her legs.
Now with the Cougars’ coach Graham Morfitt, who is a nationally ranked thrower, she’s more cognizant of her stance and where her power is generated.
“He’s changed me as a thrower, I’m more form-oriented than I was before.
“I’m still working on it.”
Along with excelling in javelin, Hayley Hunter (centre) also plays soccer and hockey. She is the goalie for the Carihi senior girls A team, which has won all but one of its games this season.