McBride transitions from walk-on to track leader

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McBride transitions from walk-on to track leader

Joel McBride participates in the hammer throw at Madison in 2015.

Joel McBride participates in the hammer throw at Madison in 2015.

Photo by Becca Heinen

Joel McBride participates in the hammer throw at Madison in 2015.

Photo by Becca Heinen

Photo by Becca Heinen

Joel McBride participates in the hammer throw at Madison in 2015.

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Deep in the heart of the old Marquette Gymnasium rings a phrase that the men’s track and field team, particularly the throwers, have been constantly saying the past month: “11 points.”

The phrase is posted all over the locker room, in the weight room and in the practice facility. The saying references the amount of points that separated the Golden Eagles from winning the Men’s 2017 BIG EAST Indoor Championship. At the center of it all, leading the phrase in every facet and workout, is senior captain Joel McBride, whose specialty is the weight and hammer throw.

Despite his captaincy title, McBride was not offered a scholarship when he came to Marquette. In high school, he did track and field to help him on the football field. He never qualified for the state meet. He was accepted into Marquette as a student, and then talked to head coach Bert Rogers and throwers coach Mike Koenning about joining the team. Despite his lack of athletic accolades, the coaches saw potential and gave him the opportunity to walk on.

“I just kept working hard and tried to prove myself every day,” McBride said. “Freshman year and sophomore year it was about adjusting, but once I became an upperclassman, I knew what I had to do, and kept proving myself and kept being available for the throwers and other teammates.”

His freshman year, McBride was surrounded by the two top throwers in Marquette history, as Will Koeck and Bret Hardin showed him the ropes. The duo inspired McBride to push himself and motivate his team.

“I definitely would not be anywhere close to where I am today if it was without Will and Brent,” McBride said. “They were both team captains and I was able to see how they lead the team. I took little pieces from both of them… Once I saw how they did it, I knew that I wanted to be a team captain.”

“We had a large influx of freshmen to the throws group and he took a leadership role to help them along,” Koenning said. “That’s been a huge help for me as a coach.”

His junior year, he continued to get better at his craft. He was named to the All-BIG EAST team in the hammer throw, as he placed third at the conference meet. He recorded the seventh-best throw in Marquette history, a throw of 17.52 meters. His effort in the weight room and at the old Marquette Gymnasium paid off, as he finished the season with a second place finish at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships in the hammer throw and entered into the top-10 all-time in program history.

Entering this past summer, the Marquette coaches noticed he came into practice early every day ready to work and improve, and head coach Bert Rogers offered McBride a scholarship for the 2016-’17 school year. On top of the scholarship, McBride was also named team captain, an honor that he had dreamed about since joining the program.

“If you were to ask me freshman year if I were to become team captain, I would have told you, ‘I really want to, with all my heart I really want to, but I don’t know if I can make it,’” McBride said. “To actually go and make it and become the team captain and be able to show these other guys how to lead and how to be more than about yourself, and put the team first, I have been so grateful for this opportunity.”

“It means a lot to me, too,” Koenning said. “(He) had to prove himself to stay on the team his freshman year. He showed some progress as a freshman, but also had a few rocky stretches too. He learned from those experiences and grew into a great leader.”

Since being named captain, McBride deals with more than just his throwing teammates, but the entire men’s track and field program. Although his role has adjusted slightly, McBride is still keeping his eye on the prize of erasing the 11 points motto that hangs in the locker room.

“We want to let people know that 11 points is nothing,” McBride said. “We are going to wipe the floor and we are coming back with vengeance. That’s heart right there, 11 points.”

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