September 1, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria shot putter Alexis McCall hopes to put tough times behind

The last 12 months have been a particularly challenging stretch for Alexis McCall, but now she’s again hoping for a brighter future.

Alexis McCall

Alexis McCall

Everything looked like it was headed in the right direction this time last year.

The 2000 Elyria High graduate and former Division I state high school shot put champion earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology from The Ohio State University in June of 2010 — six years after her remaining athletic eligibility ended in 2004.

McCall went back to Ohio State in the fall of 2009 to finish the five remaining classes she needed to earn her degree.

“I ran into a lot personal setbacks in my life and as a result I had to quit school (in 2005),” said McCall. “I broke my wrist and my ankle during my last two years of eligibility.

“I finally got my head back on straight and finished up my remaining classes.”

The injuries during her track career became such an obstacle that McCall didn’t compete her senior season. Ultimately, she dropped out of Ohio State.

“The injuries put me in a frustrated state that I didn’t know how to handle,” she said.

Four years later, McCall finally found the confidence and determination to return to Columbus.

And just when things in her life appeared to be back on track, McCall had a major setback with her health.

The 28-year-old suffered a major heart attack on Sept. 13, followed by a minor heart attack one month later.

Both heart attacks occurred at her home in Elyria, where she lives with her mom, Marsha Henry.

“I’m trying to get back on my feet and get stuff together,” said McCall, the Lorain County record-holder for shot put (47-4 ½). “My health has been very bad. It all started back when I was in college. I started losing everybody important to me in my life, like my grandfather. Then I got injured. I asked my throws coach to redshirt me because I was going through a mental breakdown. He didn’t want to do that because he thought I was good for 10 points every meet, but I didn’t have it.”

The injuries and the personal tragedies put her on an emotional downward spiral.

“I went through a very big depressed state in my life after 2003,” said McCall. “It started happening when I was going to meets and not placing or not making finals. It hurt me, it killed me. Athletics is what I knew. It crushed me.”

The struggles were made that much tougher because McCall’s athletic career at Ohio State got off to a fantastic start. She picked up right where she left off from her stellar high school career with the Pioneers, winning the state shot put title as a junior and was placing second as a senior. McCall also was fourth in discus at state her senior year with a Lorain County-record toss of 140-10.

She finished runner-up as a freshman at the 2001 Big Ten Indoor Championships, setting a school record in the shot put with a throw of 52-8. She was fourth in the shot put and eighth in the discus with a personal best 155-6 at the Big Ten Outdoors.

As a sophomore, McCall provisionally qualified for the 2002 indoor national championships in the weight throw with an OSU indoor record-setting throw of 52-9. She captured the Big Ten Indoor title for shot put and was an All-American. McCall qualified for outdoor nationals in shot put and was second in the Big Ten Outdoors.

Then the injuries came and McCall’s junior season was filled with struggles.

She exceeded 48 feet indoors four times including a season-best 48-7 ½. She took ninth at the 2003 NCAA Mideast Outdoor Regional Championships with a throw of 49-11 ¾. She was eighth at the Big Ten Outdoors (49-5). McCall threw a season-best for shot put of 50-8 and for discus of 156-8 at the Campbell Invitational.

With the memories of a shortened college career and her recent health scares fresh in her mind, McCall would like nothing better than to start taking steps toward a full mental and physical recovery.

“I’m hoping that my life turns around and is finally back on an upswing,” said McCall. “I’ve been in the down for the last six years. Right now, I’m on blood thinners for my heart for the foreseeable future and still see the heart doctor once a month. I’m still having bad panic attacks. I’m on so many pills right now sometimes it makes me feel like I’m 60 years old.

“I’m just hoping I can overcome all these health issues and get my life back. I’ve finally got my bachelors degree, now I want to do something with it. When I was younger life was good for me … now I’m just hoping it gets better.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.