Daily Egyptian

Funding keeps former Saluki in the game

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

When collegiate competitions end, athletes are left with a choice: get a job or continue competing.

Thrower J.C. Lambert chose the latter. 

Lambert, a 2013 SIU graduate, started a GoFundMe campaign Dec. 3 to help raise money to make it to the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships beginning June 25.

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“I didn’t want to do one at first,” he said. “I didn’t want to seem like I was just asking for money.”

According to Lambert’s GoFundMe profile, he is attempting to raise $6,000 to support his throwing career through the year. As of Tuesday, 11 people have donated a combined $940. Travel expenses—including a hotel, food, gas and entry fees—cost Lambert about $170 when he traveled to Indiana University and the University of Illinois last year. Lambert said 2014’s trips to indoor and outdoor USA Nationals cost $1,150 and $1,500 respectively.

By starting the campaign, Lambert was able to spend more time conditioning for competition and less working as a server at Mackie’s Pizza in Marion.

“Being on my feet for five to eight hours wears me out and takes away from my training,” he said. “I just wanted to ask for a little bit, not anything extra to pocket. Everything I get, I use for my meets.”

Lambert said it is harder to balance his budget now than while in college.

“In school, I had a scholarship check that covered everything,” he said. “I went from getting all that money a month to now I have to make it all.” 

Now, Lambert sets aside money for bills and has a savings account separate from his track and field fund with each paycheck.

Throws coach John Smith said coming out of college, Lambert was not quite ready for the higher level competition.

“You have to be able to throw the distances to be ready to compete with the best guys in the country,” he said. “He’s working his way up… he can compete.”

On Feb. 28, Lambert threw for 25.53 meters in the 35-pound weight throw to finish No. 2 at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. Lambert led for five rounds before A.G. Kruger—a three-time Olympian—beat Lambert by about 2 inches.

Lambert said the loss was hard to cope with.

“It sucked,” he said. “I tweaked my knee… but it’s no excuse. It wasn’t in the cards, but I’m hoping I can redeem myself this outdoor season.”

Junior SIU thrower DeAnna Price—Lambert’s girlfriend—said she has seen Lambert lose weight and gain strength since leaving SIU.

Price said his success comes from his dedication to the sport.

“He studies the sport like no one’s business,” she said. “He analyzes and he knows what will get him to the next level.”

In his five-year career with SIU, Lambert was a 2012 NCAA runner-up for weight throw and earned five All-American awards, the most ever by a Saluki male thrower. Lambert was also a seven-time MVC champion and six-time national qualifier. He still holds the SIU and MVC all-time weight throw records and SIU’s hammer throw record.

During Lambert’s fourth year at SIU, he was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever—a tickborne disease caused by bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which caused him to redshirt his senior outdoor season.

Lambert was not able to compete for a year and a half because the illness left him weak.

“It knocked me down,” he said. “I started feeling better and training like normal. Now I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row.”

He returned for a fifth year at SIU to throw in the outdoor season and won the MVC Championship for 16-pound hammer throw with a distance of 67.22 meters. The throw broke both the all-time MVC and MVC Championship record as well as breaking his own SIU record. Lambert also earned All-American honors by finishing fifth in the weight throw and qualified for the USATF Outdoor Championships.

Lambert’s parents—Steve and Cheryl—knew the illness would not stop their son from pursuing throwing.

“Nothing has ever come easy for him,” his father said. “He had [mononucleosis] the year before. I knew he would come back.”

Lambert, a sports administration major, said now he is on a year-by-year basis and if he does not throw 72 meters in the hammer throw he will move on, potentially to coaching.

“There’s not a lot of jobs around here that’s for me,” he said. “I want to coach at a university for track and field.”

Lambert will train until competing again at the Tennessee Relays beginning April 9 in Knoxville, Tenn. Lambert’s GoFundMe campaign can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/h9anqs.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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