Kim Vernor national champ in hammer and discus

Kim Vernor national champ in hammer and discus

By Patty Hullett
For the Daily Light

Ennis woman Kim Vernor recently returned home from the United States of American Track and Field (USATF) Masters Outdoor Championships in Ames, Iowa, at the Cyclone Sports Complex at the Iowa State University. The five-day event was held July 22-26.

Kim Vernor poses with her national championship medals she won in the hammer throw and discus throw categories.

Not only did Vernor compete, but she captured the national championship titles in the hammer throwing and discus throwing categories in her age group, 50-54.

In the modern hammer throw technique, a thrower makes three full, quick turns of the body before flinging the weight. Strength, balance, and proper timing are essential.

An official with United States Of America Track and Field, left, stands with competitor Kim Vernor during nationals at Iowa State University.

With a discus shaped like a flying saucer, discus throwing still contains the same basic objective since ancient Greece – to throw the discus farther than your opponents.

From cheerleader to competitor

Vernor is usually more comfortable in the stands cheering on her teenage sons, Dane and Heath, but this athletic mom decided to get back to her high school roots and enjoy some of the fun she experienced in track and field events in the mid to late 1980s.

She graduated from R.L. Turner High School in Farmers Branch in 1987. Vernor says, “I threw discus and shot in high school. I also ran all the relays. I had never really thought about hammer until I watched my boys do it. It is pretty fun. Now that I am getting better at it, things are becoming more technical, so it can be frustrating. But the results when you get it right are totally worth it. I plan on working shot put and weight throw later this year.”

Kim Vernor poses with her two national championship medals at the scenic overlook In Flint Hills, Kansas, during sunset on her way home to Ennis.

She continues, “I began training with probably the best and most well-known American track and field man (formerly a coaching legend at Southern Methodist University in Dallas), Dave Wollman in October 2019 at the request of my two track boys, Dane and Heath. I was going to all of the practices and watching, so they started telling me that I should start throwing again myself. I threw in high school and had not even thought about taking up the sport again. We drive to SMU twice a week for evening practices, and sometimes on the weekend. During COVID-19, we still threw and had virtual practices in the local school parking lot.”

The July Nationals was actually her first championship event. Vernor shares that a competitor has to qualify to participate in nationals, but it is fairly simple. One has to become a USATF member and have a qualifying mark in a previous meet. A total of 49 states were represented at this particular tournament, and she won both of her events in her age group. She also commented that she was a little disappointed that she did not throw a personal best, but just being a part she says was totally worth it.

Vernor explains that March through August are usually when most track meets happen. She will generally be competing in invitational meets beginning in early March and running through September, with some sprinkled-in tournaments throughout the entire year.

A career change gives her more family time

“In years past”, says Vernor, “I coached at Ennis High school and Ennis Junior High. I was a double head coach for soccer and volleyball for a number of years and eventually moved to the junior high as the Girls Athletic Coordinator. I left in 2018 to go to work with my husband Danny Vernor. I now work as a manufacturing engineer for Bombardier US Aerostructures in Red Oak. Changing occupations has allowed me to make all of my three kids’ athletic competitions. And it has been great!”

From left,  Danny Vernor, 20-yr old son Dane, (mother) Kim Vernor, 17-yr old son Heath, and in front and center is daughter Kimble Dann.

Another family member has now been drafted into the world of track and field lessons. Vernor explains, “Our 8-year old daughter, Kimble Dann, is working on discus and hammer right now. She throws the 2K hammer. It is pretty cute. She throws while we shag our implements. She will be amazing and probably better than her brothers when all is said and done. She threw shot put in the ‘8 and under division’ in the USATF Youth National in Rome, Georgia in June of this year and she came in 3rd place.”

Vernor says, “This is absolutely a family thing! Everyone in the family has lots of stuff to do, but we will always spend time together practicing and supporting each other. The boys help critique my throwing since they are more familiar with the technical side. And I know we will be active in this area of track and field events for many years to come – especially if Kimble Dann throws in high school.”

Dane, age 20, is the oldest Vernor son. He was a top-rated middle linebacker for the Ennis Lions in High School, as well as being a discus thrower during track season. Dane graduated in 2020, and then was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland to carry on with his athletics as a track and field specialist in discus.

The second son is Heath Vernor, age 17, and he is a Junior this year at EHS, where he will play Lion football in the fall and compete in discus throw when track and field season commences in 2022. Last year Heath qualified for the UIL’s State Track and Field Championships in Austin in May as a participant in the Class 5A at the Boys’ Discus Throw.

Husband Danny Vernor comments, “Yes. We are spending a lot of money on throwing lessons. But Dave Wollman is the best in the world, so it’s a great investment in our family’s favorite past time. Also, I say every good team needs someone to drive the bus – so that’s me!”

Kim Vernor adds, “Danny may not throw, but he is the facilitator for all of us. Driver, scheduler, motivator. He drove 13 hours to take me to Iowa for Nationals competition. He gets up at 4 in the morning to drive me to Lockhart, Texas to throw once a month at Atlas Fields (a training facility). We would not be as good without him pushing us to be better. He is, of course, our biggest fan.”