Stoddard leaps into spotlight
By David Adam
Anyone who has ever participated in competitive sports knows how hectic a day can be. From early morning practices to game day intensity, the life of an athlete is one of constant fatigue.
However, a regular day for Gary Stoddard, Western's premier triple jumper and captain of the varsity track and field team, makes many of his competitors look more like couch potatoes than athletes.
It is 1 a.m. and Stoddard's day has just ended. After the half hour walk home from his job at Zally's Bakery, he turns in at two in the morning. Four hours later, the triple jumper is up again, en route to the gym for two hours of weight training. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. he attends classes while somehow finding time to be the lunchroom supervisor at a nearby elementary school. Then, from four to six in the afternoon, he practices with the Mustang track team. Exhausted from his practice, Stoddard immediately heads to the Woodstock Region Track Club to coach for an hour and a half. All this leaves enough time to get home and have a quick bite to eat before arriving back at work for the graveyard shift, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Another 24-hour day in the life of a true ironman.
Stoddard believes his success in juggling a job, academics, athletics and social life is simply the result of repetition. "I've been doing this routine for three years now and my body has adjusted to it," he said. "I now find it hard to sleep for more than four hours. Over the break, I'd have to force myself back to sleep because I kept waking up."
Stoddard is currently ranked third in the country in the triple jump and has come only a centimetre away from breaking the Mustang record. "Gary is the best athlete I've ever seen," head coach Bob Vigars said. "He is the only individual that I've come across who operates at that level intellectually and physically."
As captain of the track and field team, Stoddard must also act as a leader. Coach Vigars said Stoddard is an invaluable member to the team. "Gary is a quiet leader, he mostly leads by example."
When asked about his leadership role on the team, Stoddard maintained his quiet composure. "I'm not a vocal guy who will get up in front of the guys and start yelling. I just work my hardest and go out there and do the best I can."
Stoddard completed his Kinesiology degree last year and is currently taking the remaining prerequisites he needs for entrance into chiropractic college.
Although the Mustangs finished first at the Don Wright Classic without Stoddard, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury, the team will jump at the chance to get the ironman back for the Windsor Canadian-American Classic on Friday.