Stanford adapts, leads field athletes

The redshirt senior has brought home three titles so far in indoor competition.

Grant Donald

When Peter Miller joined the Gophers coaching staff last year as an assistant coach, he knew he had a talent in thrower Devin Stanford.

The only problem was that Miller and Stanford didn’t always agree with each other.

“Last year was a lot of learning and a lot of trying new things, and sometimes those new things didn’t work,” Miller said. “Results-wise, it still looked good on paper, but I think we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, I guess.”

Despite adjusting to Miller’s new coaching style, Stanford was an All-American last year. And she carried that momentum into her 2015 campaign, winning three weight throw titles in her last four meets.

On top of that, Stanford and Miller have learned from their unique experience a year ago and have formed a player-coach duo that has blown away the competition early on.

“We got off to kind of a rocky start probably because I had a different coach for the first three years I was here,” Stanford said. “We have really come to understand each other more and be on the same page.”

Stanford, a redshirt senior, also said that the improved relationship with her throwing coach has positively influenced her early performances.

“She is easily one of our most reliable athletes,” said head coach Matt Bingle. “I know she has aspirations to be the best in the Big Ten, which I think is a definite possibility.”

Last year, Stanford finished fourth in the women’s weight throw at the Big Ten indoor championships. She will have her last opportunity to take the title at the end of this month.

In the meets leading up to the indoor championships, Stanford has excelled, setting a personal record and beating an ultra-competitive field last weekend in Lincoln, Neb.

“We have been training really hard these last few weeks, so I was pleasantly surprised at how [Devin] threw at [Nebraska],” Miller said. “If you were to ask her two years ago or three years ago if she would ever win that meet, I doubt she would have said ‘Yes.

Despite all her personal achievements, Stanford maintains that the team always comes first, even in one of the most individual sports out there.

“Honestly, the team is more important,” Stanford said. “Being able to contribute to the team is No. 1. You can set a new [personal record], but if the team doesn’t perform well, it’s not the same feeling.”

No matter how much the Gophers and Stanford fluctuate, her goal remains the same.

“I just want to, honestly, soak in every moment [of this year] because I have talked to other girls who have said they missed competing and being on the team, and I know I am going to miss those things,” she said. “The goal is basically to have fun and, hopefully, go out with a bang.”