By Elizabeth Schaeffer
March 31, 2004
Tim Gehring grew up in a small town and a close family.
Throughout junior high and high school, he found it impossible to escape his father's daily presence. Edward Gehring was a teacher and throws coach for Kettle Falls High School, so Tim took two classes taught by his father and was under his watchful coaching eye as a track athlete as well.
Gehring participated in both football and track in junior high and considered playing football in high school but decided to totally focus on track.
"I remember thinking, 'I'm fast, kind of, for the people that I was competing against, but my dad thinks that I should try the shot put and the discus, because that's what he did in high school,'" Gehring said.
His dad told Tim if he didn't like it, that was fine, but to give the shot put a try.
"I picked that thing up and I threw it further than everybody else," Gehring said. "I thought, 'hey great, I'm fair at this. I'm quote-unquote good, I'll keep doing this.'"
But learning the shot was a challenge for him in junior high.
"It was so frustrating, so very frustrating, and you're just this young immature kid," Gehring remembers. "It [the shot] is so technical and you are trying to learn it, and you don't throw very well. You just want to jump up and down and cuss at somebody, or kick something."
Gehring, although known for being very critical of his collegiate throwing, is relieved that he doesn't throw tantrums anymore.
Considering the physical potential he had in high school, Gehring was pulled aside all the time for solicitations by coaches or other athletes to turn out for the football or wrestling teams. But he had other plans and committed all his time on the throwing goals he set for himself.
"At that point I had these long term goals: to become a state champion shot putter and to break the state record." Gehring said laughingly. "It didn't happen but I came close!"
He did set school records of 58-feet, 1 inch in the shot put and 168-9 3/4 in the discus.
Gehring decided during his senior year that he wanted to continue competing and became proactive in seeking collegiate opportunities. Through that year, he filled out other college track questionnaires, but did not actually anticipate much of a response.
He was glad when the local colleges started showing interest in his abilities but Gehring was most excited when he was contacted by WSU, calling it a "big deal."
His freshman year on the Pullman campus, Gehring and Cougar throws coach Debra Farwell decided he would redshirt and devote the year to gaining the physical development needed for the shot put, and learning the hammer. The men's shot put increases in weight from 12 pounds in high school to 16 pounds in college while the hammer requires technical and physical precision.
Gehring is also embarrassed to admitting to some of his habits during his first years of competition. Along with the shot put, he still threw plenty of the tantrums associated with his earlier days.
"I had so many immaturity issues," Gehring said. "I would have a bad throw and I would kick the fence, and swear, and do these dirty hand gestures, and everybody around me would see; people from other teams, other coaches, spectators, other people's parents. And I can only imagine just how embarrassing it would be for everyone else, not only my teammates, but my coaches, my parents, and my friends."
Maturity has its rewards. Gehring's dedication to his events has brought consistent improvements and newfound leadership responsibilities. This year the coaches named him captain for the men's team.
"The team captains are to provide leadership and are expected to lead by example; which he does many times over, and to relate the team's concerns to the coaches," Associate Head Coach Farwell said. "Tim is someone who believes in our program, and believes in what we do at WSU. That is what makes him such a great team leader."
Gehring is now consumed with being a good role model for the younger guys on the team, as well as making a good impression on the high school recruits that he is in charge of as a host.
His leadership and focus are two things that have influenced his performance throughout his college career. In the first indoor meet this year, he bettered his personal record in the shot put by almost two and a half feet with a toss of 61-5 3/4, earned All-America status at the NCAA Indoor Championships, opened the outdoor season with a personal record throw of 198-9 in the hammer, and has made the top ten list for college shot put with his mark of 60-3.
Gehring has also excelled in the classroom, graduating Cum Laude in May 2003, with a bachelor's degree in business administration, majoring in accounting. He was also one of twelve student-athletes selected for the 2003-04 Cougar Pride Academic Salute which recognizes accomplishment in the community, classroom and on the playing field.
Coach Farwell says of Gehring, "He's our go-to man. We have come to depend on him in the shot and the hammer. Everything that he has achieved is because of his work ethic and his heart."