Usually in sports terminology if you hear the word brick mentioned, it’s not a good thing.
Shooting "a brick” in basketball usually describes a bad miss, lacking touch.
But in the case of 10-year-old Rob Harrison of Stephenville, literally throwing a brick led to a realization that he might have a promising future in shot put.
This Friday and Saturday in Humble, Rob will be competing “unattached” in the Region 12 USA Track and Field Southwest Association Championships. He qualified in three events — shot put, discus and javelin. He’s seeded eighth in shot put in the 11-12-year old boys division.
Even more exciting is the fact that the top five in each event at the Region 12 meet qualify for the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships, July 24-30 in Lawrence, Kansas.
“He has medaled consistently at every meet,” said his father Rhett. “He has a real shot of advancing to the national meet in discus. Right now, he has the eighth-best discus throw (for his division).”
That’s despite the fact that Rob is only 10. His results so far indicate he may have a chance against competitors who sometimes outweigh him by 60 to 80 pounds, Rhett said.
Rhett said Rob is a straight-A student who was attending private schools before transferring to Three Way. It’s a public school located a few miles southeast of Stephenville on Highway 67. Three Way features pre-K through 8th grades. Rob will be entering the fifth grade this fall.
He enjoys a wide range of sports, but had been focusing on track and field running events in the summer. That was before his father saw him heave a brick in their backyard.
Rob seemed to be a natural at throwing, and the wheels quickly began to turn in Rhett’s head.
He measured the distance Rob threw the brick, and even weighed it. It was 5 pounds, while a USATF shot put weighs 6 pounds. From there, he calculated that Rob was probably capable of excelling in shot put.
“It impressed me,” Rhett said. “He excels in throwing.”
Previously, Rob’s best track and field events were the sprints — 100- and 200-meter distances.
Last summer, Rob competed in 16 Texas Amateur Athletic Association meets. He advanced to the State Games of Texas in McAllen, where he finished seventh in his age group in shot put.
Rob came into that meet with the 19th-best mark. Early this year they began entering Rob in USATF meets, which offered more competition in weight events.
Although Rob has played baseball, basketball, soccer and flag football, he said that now track and field is “probably” his favorite.
“I do the best at it,” Rob said. “Me and my dad practice to get better. I enjoy the shot put and the discus. The javelin is probably the hardest.”
Rob is looking forward to the competition and wants to give it his best effort.
“I feel like I should do the best I can and have some fun and cross my fingers that I get to go to nationals,” Rob added.
Rhett said they are thankful for the Stephenville Parks and Recreation’s summer program, where Rob got his start in track and field competition.
“We highly encourage other families to check them out,” Rhett said. “Track has been a concerted effort by our family, whether it’s training, practice or waking up at 5 a.m, to travel to a Saturday morning meet. Rob’s involvement has been rewarding for our entire family.”
Rhett runs A.O. Easley Trucking, a family-owned trucking company. He’s in his second term serving on the Stephenville City Council.
Rhett said he and Rob’s mother, Teresa Harrison, try to find the best path for their only son at each step along the way as he gets older.
The Harrisons are focused on making sure that Rob also gets plenty of positive social structure and interaction with other children his age, noted Rhett, who has lived in Stephenville for almost 30 years.
“We always look for healthy alternatives,” said Rhett, who grew up in Gorman where he was a standout in several sports. “Three Way was the best fit. This was just the route we felt like would be healthier for him.”
Rob said he does some light dumbbell lifting, as well as pushups, to build strength without overdoing it at his young age. In addition to working with his dad, Rob has gotten some training advice from Cameron Tabor, a former TCU track standout.
“He does train hard,” Rhett said. “He’s a kid, but he takes it pretty seriously. Where Rob does well is his technique. I did some of this when I was younger. It’s really difficult to get technique to work for a 10-year-old.
“I’m proud of him because he’s my boy. We like to see him excel, and he’s an exceptionally great kid.”