When it comes to throwing the javelin, Christine Streisel's hard work and dedication have made her a model employee in John Kotchmar's "Factory."
It's a Factory which transforms raw talent into refined champions, and a Factory whose bottom line is measured in feet and inches, instead of dollars and cents.
At Kotchmar's Factory, NCAA Division I scholarships are manufactured, with some of his best known products being shipped to South Florida, Georgia and Duke over the past six years.
In this Factory, there are no "Employees of the Month," just "Athletes of the Year."
For Streisel, the Factory may only be a small garage in the village of Mary-D, but for the second straight season, it's helped mold her into the TIMES NEWS Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Under the tutelage of Kotchmar, a volunteer javelin coach at Tamaqua, Streisel joins Casey Wagner (University of South Florida) and Allison Updike (University of Georgia) to form a Tamaqua contingent that has combined to win nine PIAA State medals in the javelin over the past seven years, including two gold (Updike in 2010, Streisel in 2011) and three silver. In addition, the trio is responsible for the last seven Schuylkill League and District 11 Class AA javelin Titles.
"The Factory provides javelin throwers their own personal space to train," said Streisel. "Every Sunday during the year, we would get together for workouts, and John and Barry Krammes are there providing instruction.
"Javelin is so technique-based that if you want to be successful, you need someone there that knows what they're doing. Every day I'm working out with John or Barry at the Factory, I know I have good eyes on me that can pick my technique apart. Without them, none of this would be possible. It's their commitment, guidance, and influence that have helped me to succeed, and I think the others would probably say the same thing."
Streisel leaves Tamaqua with five Schuylkill League titles (three javelin, two shot put) and five District 11 Class AA championships (three javelin, two shot put). She was never able to catch Updike's school and overall league javelin record of 161-2 – Streisel's career best is 160-11 set in 2012 – but she holds school records in the shot put (39-7 1/2) and the discus (117-10).
After claiming a fifth-place finish in the javelin at the State Championships her freshman year, Streisel brought home the Class AA gold medal in 2011 with a throw of 143-11. Last year, she finished second in the state with a throw of 149-2, while her top mark (144-11) at this year's State Championships was good for a second straight silver medal.
"The finish to this season wasn't what I planned or wanted, but after taking some time to reflect, I realize that what I've accomplished this year and throughout my entire career has been pretty special," added Streisel. "I have four State medals and I've won numerous Championships, which is something not a lot of people have an opportunity to do."
This year, Streisel also captured her second straight State medal in the shot put. After placing sixth in the event in 2012 (38-7 1/2), she improved to 39-1 this year, which was good enough for fifth place.
Perhaps Streisel's highlight of the season came in the high school girls' javelin event at the Penn Relays on April 25.
After becoming the first Tamaqua athlete to ever win a gold medal at the Penn Relays last year with a throw of 154-11 (which is the second best throw for a high school girl in the 119 year history of the event), Streisel repeated as gold medalist on her final throw of the day when she unleashed a season-best mark of 149-6.
Streisel has decided not to compete in any meets over the summer. For the second straight year, she will head to Finland at the end of June for a javelin camp to hone her skills in preparation for her college career at Duke University later this fall.
As Streisel prepares to leave Tamaqua, she will no doubt be remembered for her vast athletic achievements, but she also hopes to be remembered for a different reason.
"I know people are going to see all the athletic stuff I've done, and hopefully they regard that highly, but I also hope they remember me for leaving a good impression on the program, at the school, and in the community," stated Streisel. "Hopefully, they saw me as a good person that worked hard and did things the right way."
For doing things the "right way," Streisel earned a full athletic scholarship to Duke University.
"It's crazy to think that just throwing the javelin is going to get me an education at a school like Duke," concluded Streisel. "To have the experience of going there and representing the school through track and field all because of something that I love to do is surreal."
There's no doubt that college will present bigger and better opportunities for Streisel as she embarks on a new working environment and the next stage of her career a career that began in a small garage on the outskirts of Tamaqua at a "Factory" where throwing the javelin became a labor of love.