Twenty-five years ago in the spring of 1979, Julie Flynn earned the right to be called the best women’s junior college shot putter in California. Her put of 44-feet-5 inches at the state championships earned her that honor but it was really the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Julie’s journey to state champion began in the neighborhoods of La Canada where she held her own in competitive games against boys in the area. It wasn’t the kind of training that turns young kids into champions but it gave her a start in sports similar to what a lot of young girls were getting into in that era.
At La Canada High, Julie competed in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field for the Spartans. Her versatility on the court, diamond and athletic field was evident from the beginning as she was one of the first great female athletes to wear a Spartans uniform.
It was also in La Canada where Julie was first introduced to shot putting. She was strong and athletic but even her mother wasn’t sure “why she was taking up such an un-lady like sport”. One other important connection Julie made in high school was to meet Dianne Spangler, then a coach for the Spartans, whom she credits with teaching her to hold her head high whether she wins or loses and who spent countless hours working with her on technique and style on and off the field.
Her success in high school led Julie to be recruited by several schools, but she decided to attend Cal State Northridge to be closer to home. Her stay at CSUN lasted just two semesters because of philosophical differences with the coaching staff. She then transferred to Pasadena City College but moved on to Glendale College when she heard that Spangler was coaching for the Vaqueros.
At Glendale, Flynn was not only reunited with Spangler, but with many local athletes she had competed with and against when she was at La Canada and looks back on the experience with great affection. “As I recall, we had a fantastic team for the two years I was there,” Flynn said. “Several meets and championships were won and titles received by many. I concentrated on the shot put and discus primarily and recall doing very well. But for the life of me I can’t recall how well.”
Using the same characteristics and skills she developed as an athlete, Flynn has worked the past 12 years as the Human Resources Director for the 15th largest independently owned business in the nation, Bashas’ Market in Arizona, where she coaches and trains management.