Joanne Rothery, thrower par excellence, is as home-grown as it gets. She says she owes her start to the “grass roots” level in Windsor, which had an excellent club and coaching staff that helped put her on her path. Rothery proclaims the Windsor Throwing Group is among the best in the province and without its support and guidance; she would not have been able to go to the high-level meets so essential to advancing her career – and what a career it was.
Rothery graduated from W.C. Kennedy High School in 1984 as a heavily decorated track and field athlete. In the midget girls division, Rothery established the Ontario record of 12.25m in the shot put in 1981 – a record that lasted more than 20 years. She continued to excel at shot put, becoming OFSAA champion in her graduating year of 1984 with a mark of 13.96m. Demonstrating diversity, Rothery was also the SWOSSA champion that year in the discus with a throw of 44.42m. So superb was Rothery that she was undefeated in shot put during her four years of throwing in high school – still one of her proudest accomplishments. Reluctant to pinpoint just one “most influential” person in her career, she acknowledges that high school coach John Allan was instrumental to her success.
As a standout in her sports, Rothery caught the attention of recruiters south of the border and committed to Oklahoma State University (OSU) and trained under coach Randy Naas, another very positive influence over her career. In a case of local-girl-makes good, Rothery was a star at OSU. She broke the record at the University of Oklahoma Invitational Meet in shot put with an impressive mark of 14.42m in 1985. The next year, Rothery set the meet record on her way to the title in discus with a throw of 40.56 at the Big Eight Outdoor Championship. With those lofty achievements to her credit, Rothery lettered in 1985 and 1986.
Rothery returned to Canada to continue her education at the University of Saskatchewan. While in Saskatoon, Rothery continued her dominance in sport working under the Zbigniew Dolegiewicz, who once held the Canadian shot record himself. She was a two-time All Canadian.
Rothery has since returned home to Windsor-Essex, where she remains an influential person in the Windsor-Essex sporting landscape, even in retirement. Like many athletes, particularly those that have achieved a high-level in sport, leaving her athletic career behind was a bittersweet decision, in part because of all of the great friendships she established in the throwing circuit and the fun she had when she was on top of her game. Rothery says she realized there were still ways for her to be involved in track and field and that helped ease the transition. She was the University of Windsor Lancers throw coach for five years and now focuses on officiating – including the Pan Am Games and the Olympic trials. In 2014, Rothery received a WESPY Legacy Award.
For all her accomplishments within the sport of track and field, Joanne Rothery can proudly take her place in the Windsor / Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, in the Athlete category.