Photos (all by SteveU from 10/14 Project Jav clinic at East Stroudsburg): Top, Coach Gorski demonstrates technique to a group of throwers; middle, Coach Putstys addresses the group against the fall East Stroudsburg backdrop; bottom, hometown Coach Krammes works with another group of throwers.
Three days of elite javelin competitions, including many of the nation’s best prep and open/elite throwers; a javelin school featuring some of the best coaches on the planet; a festivities-packed slate filled with fun and events for all ages and all levels of athletes – and even a flaming javelins exhibition?
Sounds like something you’d find in a historic, javelin-crazed locale like, say, Pihtipudas, Finland – right?
Well, this summer, it’s also what you’ll find in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Welcome to the National Scholastic Foundation’s (NSAF) first American JavFest, set for Friday-Sunday, July 24-26, 2015.
You could say it’s a dream come true for Project Javelin Head Coach Jeff Gorski, but it’s really more like a dream revived. Coach Gorski’s decades-long love of the javelin – first as a competitor, then as a coach and proponent of the discipline – led him in 1999 to make a “pilgrimage” to Finland for the Keihäskarnevaalit, or Javelin Carnival in Pihtipudas. His reflections on the trip can be read on THIS PAGE of his KlubKeihas.com site. This led Jeff to develop javelin festivals in the States between 2000 and 2003, in Philadelphia (twice), Portland and Boston.
Fast forward to 2011, when the NSAF asked Coach Gorski to lead its new Project Javelin program. From 2012-14, the annual schedule for the Project athletes included a trip to Finland to train under Coach Kimmo Kinnunen and – in 2013 – the NSAF was able to schedule the trip so it coincided with the Keihäskarnevaalit. Suffice it to say it was something the U.S. prep throwers in the Project and the NSAF staff will never forget. You can read about that HERE.
In the fall of 2014, however, the NSAF Board of Directors elected not to fund the Finland trip-portion of Project Javelin for 2015 – and the NSAF staff and Project coaches began to think about a special summer event they might be able to hold in the U.S. – something that perhaps could reach more athletes and coaches than anything previously attempted.
Then the NSAF’s fall clinic in East Stroudsburg happened – drawing a great group of student-athletes and coaches to Coach Barry Krammes’ home turf, and in what has long been recognized as one of the hot-bed states for the javelin in the U.S. Pennsylvania is indeed one of 18 states where the javelin is contested at the high school state championship level – and every year produces many of the nation’s best throwers. Coach Gorski has held or coached in a variety of other clinics in Pa., as well. The East Stroudsburg location, setting, facilities and other factors presented themselves to the NSAF to consider it as an ideal location to reignite the JavFest.
“The support from the NSAF over the years we have run this program has been a wonderful foundation to re-build the American JavFest on,” said Coach Gorski. “The excitement and attention that the training camps have drawn from the track world, and throwing groups in particular, has really energized me … and that energy running through our staff and the athletes/coaches who will attend will be quite contagious!”
“Bringing the JavFest to the East Stroudsburg is a dream come true for me,” said Coach Krammes. “To share my passion with the community I live in is extremely gratifying. I am very much looking forward to being part of this event that could help aid in the development of javelin. I do feel like this is the start of a new tradition.”
The JavFest will include 10 different competitions for all ages spread through the three days. Boys and girls will compete in Under-10, Under-15 and High School divisions, while men and women will compete in Open (college/post-collegiate) and Masters (over 40) categories. The High School and Open athletes will be split between Friday and Sunday competitions, with Sunday's finals including the NSAF's Project Javelin athletes along with other top prep entries, and then the best of the collegiate/post-collegiate athletes entered in the Open competition. Coach Tom Pukstys and Coach Gorski noted that prize money will be awarded for the top Open finishers and that it is listed as a USATF-funded event.
But the weekend will be more than just competitions. In fact, more than half of the Saturday program will be devoted to “Javelin School” sessions where athletes will be learning from some of the nation’s (and world’s) best coaches – in Project Javelin and beyond. Then each evening will include receptions and other events to be determined, with plans for later Saturday night to return outside and light up the sky with a “Flaming Javelins” exhibition.
Finally, there will be a variety of events and activities for the general public to participate in, including throwing contests using various items, from baseballs to cell phones.
“This will be a totally unique event that allows athletes, coaches and fans of the sport to be fully engaged educationally, socially and competitively,” said Coach Gorski.