DFW Olympic gold medalist Michelle Carter coaches teens on sports and life

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ARLINGTON -- Since winning an Olympic gold medal in shot put with a record-setting throw two years ago, life has been good for Red Oak High School alumna Michelle Carter.

"People are like, 'Oh my goodness, I've watched you for years!  Congratulations, we're so happy for you!' It's amazing."

Part of that good life has been doing good for girls looking to follow in her shot marks.

Carter started a youth camp last year called "You Throw Girl," and it expanded for its second edition this year to become a three-day event that does a lot more than just provide athletic coaching.  It's a sports confidence camp, providing girls in grades 6 through 12 with workshops on mental health, self-defense, age-appropriate beauty tips, social etiquette, and goal-setting.  This year's camp drew 26 girls from as far away as Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, and Virginia.

"I want to expose them to different things," says Carter.  "The more they know, the more they are exposed to, the more confident they feel in their ability and they'll feel like they belong there.

"We can break the stereotypes of what people think an athlete should look like, and we can redefine what strength really looks like."

"You don't see a lot of big girls walking around and being confident; you always try to be skinny or like that," says Aubrey Schnieders, a 15-year-old from Kansas who has attended both years of the camp.  "But at the camp you really learn that however you are, you're beautiful no matter how big, how small, what you do, and it gives you a lot of confidence in the [track and field] ring."

"It's like a safe place where you can just be with friends, and it's like your family," adds Reghan Hunt, a 14-year-old from Houston who is also a two-year camp veteran.  "I think that's what makes it different from other camps."

"We want the girls to empower themselves and each other while they're girls," says Carter, "because then it's easy for them when they're women.  They won't have to think twice about it."

Another lesson Carter can teach is perseverance.  It took her three Olympic appearances to get a medal, and the gold-clinching throw was the longest ever by an American woman in an international competition.

"It took me 20 years to get a gold medal, and most people don't stick with things for 20 years.  But I did, and I want to show the world if you have this goal and there are things that you want to do, it may take you longer than others but you can get it done."

And when you build up your inner strength, throwing an 8.8-pound ball nearly 68 feet is a lot easier!

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