Track & field's Julie Labonté no stranger to success
Senior thrower Julie Labonté makes it look easy.
Throughout her collegiate career, she’s been an indoor and outdoor All-American. She’s been an NCAA indoor and outdoor champion. And most recently, she added another first-place finish to her three MPSF championships in the shot put event.
But even though Labonté has had great success on the track and field team, she’s also had her fair share of challenges.
Labonté came to Arizona from Sainte-Justine, Québec. Labonté said coming to the UA was a big change from her small town of 2,000 people.
Not only that, but Labonté’s native language was French. She had to learn a whole new language when she moved to Tucson.
“It’s been really different,” Labonté said. “It was really hard at first, but I’ve been having great years here at the UA, so I don’t regret anything.”
Head coach Fred Harvey said Labonté never showed signs of a struggle in her training. Her talent and determination were clear from the very beginning.
“Obviously learning a whole new language would set some athletes back, but it was clear from her first semester here that she continued to make progress academically and athletically as well,” Harvey said.
Labonté started training when she was 16 years old. She competed during high school in meets in Boston and New York, and traveled to Europe and Asia to compete as well.
Throughout that time, she trained with her father. But when she moved to Tucson, she was presented with the challenge of trusting her new coach, Labonté said.
However, this didn’t affect Labonté’s attitude in the slightest. Harvey said that what stands out about Labonté is her willingness to accept constructive criticism and her ability to be a team player.
Labonté’s success and growth with her new coaching staff has been evident since her freshman year.
“It’s incredible,” Harvey said. “Her work [throwing] with coach [Craig] Carter and being able to make the jump from being a highly recruited athlete to a national champion is very huge.”
All of Labonté’s challenges seemed irrelevant when she competed in the 2012 Olympic Games, representing her home country of Canada.
“It was amazing,” Labonté said. “Being a part of that and representing my country is the best experience I’ve had in my life.”
Labonté said she hopes that she can become a professional thrower after graduating. She said she wants to seek sponsorship and ultimately return to the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020.