We are so thrilled to introduce new Haute Volée athlete, Valarie Allman! Val is the real deal: reigning US champion in the discus, project engineer, and professional level dancer (*we have yet to certify her dance moves, but her credentials are legit). Val has an amazing year on deck and we are so honored to be a part of her journey. Please help us welcome Val to the Oiselle family, and get prepared for lots of beastly throwing and fun shenanigans!
Tell us about how you started throwing the discus!
My path to discus is a little unconventional.
Growing up, my parents encouraged me to try a bunch of different sports when I was really young. I fell in love with soccer at first then transitioned into dancing. I was fortunate to be selected as a protege by the choreographers from the show “So You Think You Can Dance” to be part of a touring group called “The Pulse”. During the week, I went to school then on the weekends I would travel around the nation to assist them teaching intensive dance classes to kids of all ages. By the time I got to Silver Creek High School, dance had become a full-time commitment.
When I became a freshman in high school, my brother Kevin was a senior on the track team and encouraged me to get involved in our school. Ms. Keith, the track coach, invited me to be part of the program. She told me I don’t care if you can come one day a week or once a month, I’d love for you to be part of our team.
I started off trying sprinting and jumping events and wasn’t very good to be honest. Near the end of the season, the throwers were hosting their annual spaghetti dinner. They announced that anyone who tried one of the events could attend. So OF COURSE, I went and tried discus. Right from the start, I had a weird knack for the event and found myself throwing as far as the boys.
Track and field quickly became a rewarding passion for me. I began to love the sport where you could get immediate feedback with measurable results. It became gratifying to work on my technique and see the implement go further. The sprints coach, Brian Gunnarson, saw potential in me in the discus and started coaching me. Over the next three years, we learned the event together. He maximized my potential more than I ever could have dreamed. Never did I imagine that just two and a half years later, he would help me go on to break the Colorado state record, become the #1 prep discus thrower in the country, and earn a scholarship to Stanford University.
Who would have ever thought a dancer could throw the discus?
You had a great collegiate career! What is your favorite memory from Stanford, and one you'd rather forget (or a "learning moment")?
The time I got to spend at Stanford was a dream. The creative courses, iconic red roofs, warm weather, and funky mascot all will have a special place in my heart. Now when I reflect back to life on the farm, it’s the people that made my time at Stanford University so memorable. It’s the memories with my teammates, friends, coaches, and professors that will stay with me forever.
The first time I competed in the Stanford uniform as a freshman was a big learning moment. With the competition being at our rival school, Cal, my nerves were elevated thinking about how the meet was going to unfold. I showed up bright and early with the other throwers and couldn’t get my mind to stop thinking about the competition ahead. We loaded up and headed North toward bear territory. Halfway into the drive, it felt like a lightning bolt hit my heart when I realized I left my throwing shoes at the track! With my voice trembling, I told my coach who silently turned the van around… it felt like the longest car ride ever.
Now when packing for competitions, I literally make a clothes version of myself on the floor from head to toe to make sure I have everything I need for the comp. No matter how ready you are to compete, I learned you always have to take care of the basics first.
My teammates and coach had a lot of fun teasing me that day, but also helped me bounce back to set the Stanford freshman discus record on my very first collegiate throw. That’s when I knew I had found my Cardinal family.
You recently moved to Austin to train with your coach. What do you like most about your new digs? Any culture shock?
To be honest, moving to Austin came as a bit of a surprise. My plan was to stay in the Bay Area and finish my master’s program in Augmented and Virtual Reality and keep training at Stanford. However, sometimes the pot of life gets all stirred up with lots of seasoning and it turns out extra extra spicy… good thing I love me some hot stuff ;-). When my coach, Zebulon Sion, took the job at The University of Texas, I was able to take a leave of absence from the program in order to keep training with him. Having found a coach who is my rock and maximizes my potential, I knew we had to stay together. I’m also so excited to be a Longhorn volunteer coach, but need to get better at not giggling when people say “Hook ‘em Horns”.
I’m just getting settled into my new digs in Austin, but can tell already I am going to love it. I’ve quickly fallen in love the BBQ and low-key have become obsessed with lean brisket. From the people to the music and food to the weather, there are so many things I can’t wait to explore.
What are your big hairy scary goals for this year? What are you most looking forward to in your first year out?
My goal for this upcoming season is to compete in international competitions confidently. Leaving the bubble of American Track and Field can be big, hairy, and scary, but my hope is to be consistent and competitive when up against the best in the world. Being flexible and able to adjust to new time zones, long flights, and cultural differences are all part of this new chapter. I want to walk into competitions feeling prepared knowing I did all of the small things to the best of my ability. In college, it felt like there was never enough time to juggle athletics and academics with the quality I wanted. Now being able to fully focus on track, I am looking forward to optimizing my recovery, sleep, nutrition, and training. Taking care of all the small details will help align with the big goals.
How do you "go bananas" / have fun?
My go to is to throw on one of my favorite playlists really loud and just dance. I recommend “New Romantics” by T-Swizzle. It’ll really make you go bananas. :)
What makes you most pumped about partnering with Oiselle?
Empowerment and contagious enthusiasm are what make me so excited to join the Oiselle sisterhood. Getting to be part of something bigger than myself provides a sense of purpose and source of joy. It is so motivating to be part of a company that is advocating for women during a time where females are constantly breaking barriers and setting the tone for future generations to take flyte.
We can't wait to cheer you on!