Between The Hedges on Wednesday caught up with Georgia javelin star Braydon Anderson. The 22-year-old true sophomore dishes on why he got a late start on college, why he loves Athens, and more.
BtH: Thanks for stopping by, Braydon. You're already 22 and only a sophomore, due to the fact that you spent two years after high school on a mission as part of the LDS Church. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Braydon Anderson: Traditionally in my church, you leave home when you're 19. You pay your own way to go somewhere you're assigned--I was assigned to Boise, Idaho--so I left for Boise and spent the majority of time in the area around there. Every day for two years, I wore a white shirt and tie, slacks, and just went out. It was a full time mission, so I left early in the morning and got back late at night, after spending all day looking for people to teach. I'd try to help anyone out with whatever was going on in their life, teach them about my faith, and try to serve however I could. But it was also a real experience in being able to discover myself. It was my first time away from home like that. It was a real structured lifestyle, which was definitely a blessing in my life.
BtH: What were some of the specific things that you think made it such a powerful experience?
BA: One of the big ways it was a unique experience was that I didn't work in the typical sense, wasn't making money, and that I didn't go to school. Everything that I paid went towards my housing, my food, my transportation, so I was really able to put all my personal cares and worries aside and completely focus on other people. That made a huge difference for me, because not having to worry about that stuff let me help people out.
BtH: Did that structure allow for you to get some throwing practice in at all?
BA: I actually didn't have much, if any, time to train, other than as much as I could get in doing pushups, pullups and situps. That's about the extent of what I could do. I did at one point--there was a high school we passed in Oregon and some kids were out there throwing the javelin, so I did get to toss it around a bit--but other than that I didn't have any formal training while I was on my mission. Just didn't have time for it, couldn't do it, so I just had faith that I was doing the right thing out there and I'd be blessed for it.
BtH: We're very glad you ended up here. What was your decision making process looking at schools after such a long time away from them?
BA: Well, before I left for my mission I had come here on a recruiting visit. A track camp here in high school was my first exposure to [Assistant Coach Don] Babbitt, and he liked that I was a quick learner and was teachable. I ended up coming here for that recruiting visit in 2008, and my mom and I loved the facilities, the coach, and the program. At the end of my visit I told Coach Babbitt that I was going on a mission for my church, and he said that after I finished it, if he was still coaching here, he'd have a spot for me on the team. So towards the end of my mission, I was making a decision on where to go to school--had a couple scholarship offers and was weighing academic opportunities, and emailed Coach Babbitt. It felt like forever for him to email me back [laughs], but he said that he'd love for me to be on the team.
BtH: Were you also considering Brigham Young?
BA: Yeah, I was accepted on academics and they also offered me a track scholarship. It made the decision really hard. For a long time I was convinced I was going to BYU, as it was one of my wants as a child and my sister was actually already there at school, so to be able to go out there and hang out with her was a cool prospect. But one of the big decisions I made on coming to the University of Georgia was the program, Coach Babbitt, and my family being here in Georgia.
BtH: They're in Marietta, right? How does Athens compare to your hometown?
BA: I love Athens. There's really just a big sense of comradery here, you know? Everybody loves everybody, and it's really awesome. It's also the South, and I had missed that southern comfort. It's a nice little bubble of Georgia pride.
BtH: How do you think being here at UGA has helped you as a javelin thrower?
BA: Back in high school, I threw well, but I didn't have any formal training so it was more abut me just slinging the javelin as far as I could. I was a pitcher too, so I have a natural throwing arm from baseball. Initially my javelin throw was very much like a baseball throw. Being able to come here under Coach Babbitt, who was a javelin thrower himself, was just what I needed. He's been a really good teacher, ironing out the fundamentals, laying a foundation for my technique. I still have pretty basic form in comparison to other throwers, but I make do with what I got.
BtH: You've still got two good years ahead of you. But what are some things you might be thinking about for after graduation?
BA: Well, my major right now is Psychology. A lot of that came from my mission, being concerned with other people and why people do the things they do. For a long time I'd wanted to be a counselor, to work in marriage and family counseling, but one of the things I've been thinking about now is maybe becoming a juvenile probation officer. It's a good way to be involved with kids and maybe make a difference where you can. And I think with specifically my attributes--my personality, my physical stature--I feel like I can be pretty influential. I've got a younger brother and sister, and it just seems like something I'd love to do.
For more on Braydon's story, check out this video produced by UGA NewSource.