Success doesn’t stop Gophers throws coach from teaching

by Allison Younge

Lynne Anderson walked into her office at the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Wednesday after icing her painful right arm. The Gophers track and field throws coach was outside with her son the day before throwing two pine cones into the air simultaneously and attempting to hit them with a tennis racquet.
“It happens,” Anderson said about the pain in her arm. “I get this rush of adrenaline and all I want to do is succeed — in anything. My arm was killing me last night, but I kept going.”
This same relentless desire that at times consumes Anderson, is what she strives to develop in the Gophers shot, discus and javelin throwers. And the results are impressive.
Since becoming the Minnesota women’s throws coach in 1980 and the men’s coach in 1988, Anderson has trained several Big Ten champions, NCAA runners-up and national and Pan-American team members.
This year, the Gophers will send three women and six men to the Big Ten championships in Champaign, Ill., including two returning champions.
Gophers Big Ten discus champions Dani Parkos (1995) and Jason Schlueter (1996) have made strides to contest for their second Big Ten titles. Anderson believes in her throwers, and they hold her in high regard.
“She’s one of the best technical coaches in the country,” Schlueter said. “She’s down to earth and shows great concern for her athletes.”
Schlueter admits to being skeptical at first about having a female throws coach, but after training for five years under Anderson, there isn’t a hint of doubt to his words.
“It turned out to be the best thing that could’ve happened,” Schlueter said. “She’s developed me into what I am today.”
Anderson’s interest in coaching the throws events sprung from several years in elite competition of her own. Before coming to Minnesota, the Eugene, Ore., native captured state and national titles and was a member of the 1976 Olympic team (in the discus) in Montreal. Anderson, then Lynne Winbigler, was the American discus record holder from 1977-79 with a personal best of 189 feet, 6 inches. She was inducted into the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
She married University teacher Colin Anderson in 1980 and moved to the Twin Cities. The Gophers throws coaching position was available so Anderson decided to apply. Now, 17 years later, she has succeeded in making a lasting impression on athletes, coaches, parents and fans of the Gophers track and field program. Over the years, the Gophers throwers have become a vital point-scoring component in competitive meets.
“The throws team almost always gives us close to 50 percent of our points in the Big Ten meet,” said Gary Wilson, women’s head track and field coach. “In my mind, she’s the best throws coach in the country.”
And Anderson shows no signs of burnout. She’s established herself and the throws program to the point where only a minimal amount of recruiting is necessary. Now throwers desiring success come to her. A consistent turnover of athletes (a senior graduates and a freshman comes in) has kept the veteran coach’s mind off her retirement — at least for a few years.
“My husband will retire in 12 years, and that’s probably when I’ll retire too, unless my son decides to throw and he comes here. I’ll coach him and then be done,” Anderson said.
Three-year-old Thomas (Anderson’s son) has a little time to wait before entering the demanding world of track and field but no-doubt he’ll be given every opportunity. Jokingly, Anderson described his progress.
“When he was 1 1/2, he was busy throwing shot, javelin and discus, but that’s old stuff. He’s more advanced now; he’s into dinosaurs and galactic things.”
As with the pine cone scenario, Anderson’s personality continues to be an excellent example of competitive drive and consistency.
“I’m a teacher,” Anderson said. “not just of athletics but things like how to deal with stress and competition and how to motivate yourself and focus, which is what you need in life.”