Adrianna “Addie” Shaw doesn’t always have to say a whole lot, because her actions speak volumes. The native of Bassett, Neb., a town of less than 600 people, made a rather loud statement in late May of 2018. In an event that had sometimes frustrated her, the Concordia University track and field star achieved glory and unforgettable joy.
It was May 26, 2018, when the sophomore version of Shaw landed the national title winning discus throw that crashed onto a water logged field in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Said Shaw at the time, “I definitely didn’t expect it to happen this early, especially in this event. It’s really special because our throws program is so well-known in the NAIA. To be able to add my name to that list is pretty special.”
Now a senior, Shaw is getting set to put the finishing touches on a collegiate career that has included NAIA discus national titles in both 2018 and 2019. She’s also the reigning GPAC discus champion, a former shot put national runner up and a six-time NAIA All-American. Those types of accolades put Shaw among elite company. She is one of five throwers during assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s tenure to earn multiple national titles.
The credentials made Shaw a fairly obvious choice as one of the team captains for head coach Matt Beisel’s program. What she does in the ring tells only part of the story. Shaw earns high marks in the classroom and sets an example for her teammates. If you take the time to observe, you may have a better understanding of how Shaw became a national champion.
“Addie is a little more introverted, but she’s always doing the right things at practice and at meets and is there for other people,” McLaughlin said. “She’s not so much of a verbal leader, but more of a ‘do what I do’ leader. She’s going to show up and put in the work. If she sees you not doing your part she’ll say something, but she is definitely a lead-by-example person. The team can see it right away.”
Of course Shaw seemed to be driven also by having three-time national champion Samantha Liermann as a teammate for the previous three years. The presence of both standout throwers created a healthy competition. At the same time, Shaw and Liermann are close friends and want to see each other succeed.
In the final meet of her career, Liermann won a shot put national title. Then she watched Shaw accomplish the same thing in the discus. It all seemed fitting.
Said Shaw, “We’re both very competitive people so it was nice having each other to push the other one all the time. I think that’s hard to come by to find someone you can have a good competitive relationship with where it’s not going to bother someone if one of us has a better day. I think that’s really cool. We’re both happy for each other. I think it just creates a good atmosphere for the team. It sets an example for how we should all act with each other in a good competitive atmosphere.”
From the beginning, the close-knit Christian community offered by Concordia proved to be a fit for Shaw. She wasn’t really the big city type. As a sophomore in high school, Shaw first got to know McLaughlin at Bulldog throws camps. She began to see a potential path to big things in Seward. She liked how McLaughlin taught and how he crafted the throws program.
All of the great ones that McLaughlin has overseen have consistently possessed a burning desire to be the best. Shaw is no different. She’s fueled by competition.
“There’s nobody in the country who wouldn’t want to have their own version of Addie,” McLaughlin said. “She wants more. She wants to be considered top in the country in multiple events – and that’s tough. Even within our conference it’s a big challenge. I’m real excited for her. She was throwing over Christmas break. She didn’t want to wait.”
The time is now for Shaw, who has one season of both indoor and outdoor competition left on her plate. At the Concordia Early Bird in the middle of December, Shaw already guaranteed her spot at nationals in the shot put and weight throw. As of this week, she ranks inside the top three nationally in both events.
Shaw will take aim at winning an indoor national title in 2020, something she hasn’t done before. When exactly did she realize such a feat was possible in the discus? Said Shaw, “When it started to go far, I guess. Even after it started going far I didn’t necessarily like it that much. I think it’s started to grow on me a little bit more. Last year it was a little bit more fun. I find myself asking to do discus tech a little bit more often now.”
McLaughlin called Shaw’s first discus national title a “complete shock.” She had out-distanced the rest of the country after placing third in the GPAC that year. But let’s not mistake Shaw for a one-event wonder. If things come together just right, Shaw could find her way onto the podium plenty of times in 2020. The possibilities are quite exciting.
“She’s worked really hard,” McLaughlin said. “Her technique has gotten a lot better and she’s starting to understand it a little more. She has kind of the Zach Lurz ‘problem.’ She’s very good at everything. Addie walks in the door and makes nationals in shot put as a freshman right away and makes discus right away. She is a jack-of-all trades because of her range of abilities. She has the potential to be a five-time All-American in one year.”
Shaw will eventually graduate from Concordia with a laundry list of accomplishments. No matter what happens over the next four months or so, Shaw will take a lifetime’s worth of memories and friendships into post-graduate life.
“I’ve made some of the best friends that I ever could,” Shaw said. “My parents would always say that you’re going to make better friends in college than you did in high school. I really have. I have some of the best friends here at Concordia that I never thought I would have made. I don’t think I would have made them anywhere else. It’s so cool to be able to look back at my time here with such high regard.”