A Spartan Olympian returns to coach

Freshman+Mya+Dickerson+takes+a+photo+with+gold+medalist+Ginny+Thrasher+and+her+medal+at+rifle+practice.+Thrasher%27s+medal+was+the+first+won+in+the+2016+Summer+Olympics.
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A Spartan Olympian returns to coach

Freshman Mya Dickerson takes a photo with gold medalist Ginny Thrasher and her medal at rifle practice. Thrasher's medal was the first won in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Freshman Mya Dickerson takes a photo with gold medalist Ginny Thrasher and her medal at rifle practice. Thrasher's medal was the first won in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Hannah Corbett

Freshman Mya Dickerson takes a photo with gold medalist Ginny Thrasher and her medal at rifle practice. Thrasher's medal was the first won in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Hannah Corbett

Hannah Corbett

Freshman Mya Dickerson takes a photo with gold medalist Ginny Thrasher and her medal at rifle practice. Thrasher's medal was the first won in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Maryann Xue and Dina Tidd, Managing and Business Editor

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Within a year of graduating from WS, Virginia (Ginny) Thrasher won the first gold medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for the 10m air rifle event. Two years later, she still returns to WS to coach the same rifle team that she started from.

Thrasher’s mom, Valerie Thrasher, is one of the coaches of the WS rifle team, so Thrasher often visits WS when she returns from West Virginia University for the holidays.

“It’s always really special when she visits and coaches us,” said senior Amity Ermarth, captain of the rifle team. “Everyone learns a lot from her and it’s a really fun time for both the new and old team members.”

Thrasher teaches the team several shooting methods that have helped her improve her skills. Some of these unique positions include the “Ginny jump” method and a kneeling position where they “shake the baby” and then “karate chop it.”

“It’s really cool because she comes in to teach us different positions and give us pointers. She has a lot of really good information and experiences that we can learn from and that we are able to take into consideration whenever we are shooting,” said junior Hallie Willis.

Thrasher shares her experiences from the Olympics with the team to help improve their performance and knowledge of what is expected in the higher ranks. Having an Olympic gold medalist coach has helped them improve their performance at competitions against other teams in the region.

“Unlike our other coaches who usually stand and watch all of us at once and help as they are needed, Ginny starts on one end of the range and goes down the line, stopping at each lane to coach the individual,” said senior Elisa Fritzsche. “Because of her height, she gets up on the chair to get a better view and to be sure that we are centrally aligned on our point, which always makes us laugh.”

After practice, Thrasher spends time with the rifle team just talking about school and comparing the teachers she had when she was at WS. She also offers opportunities to members of the rifle team to take pictures with her and her Olympic medal.

“A lot of people think Olympic medalists are like celebrities, but in person she’s really friendly and easy to talk to,” said Ermarth.

Thrasher’s achievements have been a source of inspiration for many Spartan rifle team members. Through her hardwork and dedication to her sport, she was able to compete on the international level despite only recently graduating from a high school rifle team.

“Ginny went from something like ranking below 50th in the nation to first in the world in less than a year,” said Fritzsche. “Though when I started rifle freshman year my scores were nowhere near where I wanted them to be, this always gave me hope that I could eventually get better.”

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