During the course of this year, sophomore Julie Labonte has established herself as one of the best shot putters in the country. The Quebec, Canada, native won the NCAA Indoor Championships last month and was named this week's Pacific 10 Conference Women's Field Athlete of the Week for her efforts at the Texas Relays.
Labonte spoke with the Arizona Daily Wildcat about her season, why she chose Arizona and the differences between life in Canada and America.
Daily Wildcat: You were named Pac-10 Field Athlete of the Week, tell me about how that feels.
Julie Labonte: For sure. It's amazing. It's just been such a great season and I'm so happy.
You're the No. 1 shotputter in the country and top-10 internationally. Did you expect to have such dominant success this season?
At first, I wasn't expecting it. Practice before the season wasn't that great so I wasn't sure how the season would go. But once we started getting into meets I did well, and I've just been really happy with how everything's gone.
The Arizona women's team is ranked No. 10 in the country. What's been the key to its success?
During practice we really push each other and we all want to do our best. We have really good players, and we want to get to the national championship.
Any pre-game routines or rituals?
I always talk to my parents. They give me motivation and push me.
What's the most important part of the shot put technique?
It's all so important. If you miss one thing it won't go as far, so you always have to think about pushing with your shoulders and placing your legs and stuff like that. Every detail is important.
Why did you choose shot put over other events?
I've always been really strong, so I wanted to try throwing instead of doing hurdles and distance and stuff like that.
You're from Canada, how did you end up at the UA?
I visited a bunch of schools, but I really liked the UA program and their coaches and of course, I love the weather.
Did you always plan on going to school in America?
Yes. I left the national team (in Canada) because I knew there was big competition here and I wanted to try and experience that and get a degree.
What's the biggest difference between the two countries?
The language, for sure. And the weather. There's four feet of snow in my hometown right now.
I bet your friends at home are pretty jealous of you right now.
Yeah, of course (laughs). They're always really jealous and comment on my Facebook page saying they wish they could come visit me.
Better entertainment industry: America or Canada?
I've never watched Canadian stuff, I always watched American movies and listened to the music here. I love Adam Sandler movies and romantic movies, too.
Since you're from Canada I assume you've seen the show ""Degrassi."" Is high school in Canada as absurd as that show makes it out to be?
(Laughs) No, it's not really like that.