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Harold Connolly dedicated his last decades to the youth hammer throw. After encouraging athletes such as myself to pick up the event, he began to see that it wasn’t just the lack of throwers that was hurting America’s prospects in the event, it was also their isolation from one another. This isolation meant that talented kids were not getting the resources they needed to become world class throwers. So, in addition to all of his other projects, Harold began raising money in 2005 to give grants to the top youth throwers. He would email hundreds of people, plea on the internet, and hand out coaching DVDs in order to encourage donations. It started as a grassroots project every year and the money started to trickle in. He received a few larger donations, but the bulk of the funds came from $5 and $10 donations from people who believed in what he was doing.
Over the next five years, Harold handed out $16,500 in grants to 30 boys and girls (including Conor McCullough and Walter Henning, both of whom went on to win the IAAF World Junior Championships). Then, just months before his untimely death, the USATF Foundation stepped in and offered to support the program with $7,500 per year. All of this money goes to help youth hammer throwers purchase training equipment, travel to competitions, buy instructional videos, or even just pay entry fees to meets.
No grants were given out last year since we were trying to figure out the way forward after Harold’s death. With renewed support from the USATF Foundation and other donors, we started up the grant program again this spring and are extending the entry deadline from October 1st to November 15th. If you know a male or female youth hammer throwers born between 1995 and 1999, please help us spread the word and encourage them to apply.