When you take a step back and think about the path St. Clairsville senior Alyssa Robinson has taken during her prep sports career to get to where she is now, it's simply amazing.
As a freshman, Robinson was a member of the softball team with basically no idea what a shot put even was.
"I was working with a trainer at a gym and we were doing an exercise with a medicine ball, and I kept throwing it pretty hard," Robinson recalled. "My trainer said I should think about shot put."
T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY
ST. CLAIRSVILLE senior Alyssa Robinson (front row, center) officially signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her track and field career at Penn State University. Robinson is flanked by her parents Chuck and Bev. In back, from left, are St. C. Athletic Director Kelly Rine, assistant track coach Jena Frye and head coach Ben Frye.
Along with that strength, Robinson also had athleticism and agility, which when combined is a throwing coach's dream. However, Robinson learned there was more to the event than just those factors early on after making her decision to give it a chance.
"The first day I ever threw a shot put, I thought to myself, 'Wow! I am not very good at this at all,'" Robinson admitted. "But, I did enjoy it, so I thought I'd just keep trying and see what happens."
That determination and decision has certainly paid dividends as Robinson has been on the literal fast track ever since.
With a state title and state bronze medal in the shot put already on her resume in just two seasons, Robinson caught the eye of many Division I programs and made it official during a ceremony at St. C. High Monday afternoon when she signed her National Letter of Intent to Penn State University.
"It's crazy to think about how far I've come," Robinson said.
Robinson went back-and-forth between the Nittany Lions and their Big Ten rival Ohio State University for several weeks before formally offering a verbal last week.
After weighing all of the pros and cons, she had four major reasons as to why she opted to head to State College over Columbus.
"The campus is beautiful, the track team and coaches are great and they just make you feel like you're already part of the team," Robinson said. "I plan on studying kinesiology and Penn State has the number one program in the nation, and that was definitely one of the most important things because it's education first and track second."
While track might rank second, Robinson hasn't seen that number as a place too often during her career.
"What's Alyssa has been able to accomplish so fast is really impressive," said St. C. head track coach Ben Frye. "It's a tribute to her hardwork, the fact that she's got tremendous character and is an all-around great kid. I have no doubt that she's going to be very successful at the next level."
Robinson was undefeated in the shot put during the 2012 season. Outside of a silver medal at the regional in 2011 and the aforementioned bronze in Columbus, Robinson hasn't tasted much defeat whatsoever.
Becoming a total junkie of the event, Robinson became heavily involved in indoor track last winter and carried that steady stream of success into the outdoor season.
She's thrown at a few events this winter and will compete at the indoor nationals at the famed 'Armory' in New York City next month.
"That'll be a good experience for me because I am really not used to throwing at those big meets against people from all over the country," Robinson said. "It's a lot more motivation because I know I'll have to push myself a lot more since these girls are throwing close to 45 feet, but that makes me want it even more."
During the last two outdoor seasons, Robinson has been winning meets impressively, establishing several meet records up and down the Ohio Valley.
All told, Robinson owns two OVAC titles, two district titles, a regional championship, but she achieved the top prize last June at OSU when she uncorked a mark of 44-ft-10 on her final throw to earn the state gold medal.
"I think Alyssa has only started to tap into the things she's going to be able to accomplish," Frye said. "I expect big things from her this season and into the future."
While obviously defending all of those titles are Robinson's main goals for the season, she's got her eye on the measuring tape, too.
"I want to hit 50 feet this season," Robinson said. "Every day I am in the weight room thinking about indoor nationals, state meet and getting to 50 feet."
For the Lady Red Devils, Robinson has steadily improved in the discus. She was consistently better than 100 feet last spring and qualified to the regional. She's well aware that with the Nittany Lions, she'll be picking up maybe upwards of three more events.
"There is always room for improvement and I'll be picking up the hammer and weight," Robinson said.
On top of track and field, Robinson has been active in French Club, Culture Club, Yearbook, Ski Club and cheerleading.
Alyssa is the daughter of Chuck and Bev Robinson.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org