In Grade 9, Jayden Driver’s track and field coach at W. J. Mouat Secondary put a hammer in his hand and told him to try the throwing sport.
Moments later, Driver let the hammer fly and the results were impressive.
“That first time I threw it as far as the Grade 11’s,” he said. “It was just a natural feeling. I felt very comfortable doing it.”
Driver has been honing his craft ever since, winning silver in the hammer throw as a junior and senior at the Fraser Valleys, and also winning regional gold medals in the shot put and discus. Driver also dominated at the B.C. high school track and field championships in 2014, winning gold in both the hammer and discus.
He finished second in Canada in the hammer throw last year for his age group, and also competed for Team BC in Quebec at the Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field Championships.
All of the success attracted considerable attention from post-secondary schools in the United States, but Driver wanted to stay close to home and signed with the Simon Fraser University (SFU) track and field team earlier this month.
“I didn’t expect to get as far as I’ve got with the sport,” he said. “I’m really thankful for that. It feels really nice to have an athletic scholarship.”
Driver trained for years in the throwing sports at Mouat, but said he learned a lot of the more technical details of the sport from Harold Willers of the Valley Royals track and field team.
“He’s an amazing coach and the team has been so great to work with. I’ve gone to so many meets with him and he knows what he’s doing. He’s helped me focus on the technical things that most coaches wouldn’t even know to tell you about.”
It will be an adjustment for Driver to go from high school to university throwing, as the hammer increases in weight from six kilograms to 7.2 kg. He will also be regularly squaring off against older and more experienced athletes.
In the meantime, Driver will continue wearing the colours of the Mouat Hawks from now until the end of the school year. He will also compete as a member of the Valley Royals in throwing events this summer.
He will be studying general studies at SFU, and hopes to eventually go into education. He noted that he’s been helping out mentoring athletes at Mouat for several years, and it’s a role he has enjoyed.
“I think coaching or being a physical education teacher would be my dream job,” he said.
Driver, the Hawks and all the other Abbotsford high schools compete at the 2016 Fraser Valley High Schools Track and Field Championships in Surrey on May 19.