As technical as the shot put event is in indoor track, that’s not where Devon Patterson needed the most work.
When he was a freshman at Williamsville South it wasn’t his footwork as much as his attitude that needed an overhaul. He had always given his best in track, but as a student, he had an inventory that included 33 detentions, three in-school suspensions and one out-of-school suspension.
“I was a bad kid,” said Patterson, now a junior. “Freshman year was a horrible year for me. I was a troubled kid, talking back to teachers. I had to make my mark being a freshman. And I made it the wrong way. I was looking toward the wrong crowds, hanging out with the wrong people.”
This young man who excelled in the throws soon found a new circle. After hitting the 50-foot mark at sectionals as a freshman, Patterson began to believe those around him who said he had potential.
He spent the summer between his freshman and sophomore years training — and thinking. Who was he trying to impress with his bad behavior? He didn’t have the answer anymore.
His sophomore year was dramatically different. He only got one detention.
“I would have tried to put the teacher in her place, and instead I ended up putting myself in my place. I held my tongue because I knew it was the right thing to do. I didn’t need to show off anymore,” he said. “I thought about it a lot over the summer, my mom and dad raised me better than that. I want to represent them better than what I was doing.”
Patterson has since found his mark and it’s a Section VI record 60 feet, 4.75 inches. Before this season the Section VI record of 58-6.50 had been held since 1998 by Sweet Home graduate Bryon McKinney.
Patterson’s 60 foot throw was his winning effort at Saturday’s fifth annual Rock ‘N Roll Throw-Offs at Lancaster. The mark leaves him No. 3 in the nation behind Braheme Days of Bridgetown, N.J. (69-0) and Dylan Dyke of Waverly, Ohio (64-0), according to milesplit.com.
“I’m always happy to get a big throw, but I’m never satisfied unless it’s bigger. I know there’s always something else in the tank and I just have to stay humble and stay hungry,” said Patterson. “I know I’m the first person in Section VI to throw 60 indoor, but I know there are other people out there in the nation who are throwing just as far as me. I’m No. 3 in the nation behind 64 and 69 so there’s always better competition out there.”
Patterson is built like a linebacker at 6 feet, 240 pounds. He can bench press 320 pounds, squat 485 and deadlift 550.
Technique-wise he says he needs to involve his legs more. Patterson is convinced his biggest throws are ahead of him. He’ll likely be the No. 1 seed going into next month’s New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Cornell.
At last year’s sectionals he finished second, but went to states after hitting the state standard and placed sixth.
Still, he’s in a place many wouldn’t have predicted.
“Devon had a few run-ins with teachers that resulted in disciplinary action. Since then we have had many conversations on the importance of being a positive member of the team and the school community,” said South throws coach Azure Mucitelli.
“Today I often hear the phrase, ‘Couldn’t have happened to a better kid.’ Devon has the talent, and more importantly, the drive to make his dreams come true.”