The distance 54-feet-5 never has been far from Nic Eader’s mind.
It now, however, has more significance. Eader, a Watkins Memorial senior, has been pushing for the school’s shot put record his entire career. That record is owned by his coach, Charlie Watkins, who died unexpectedly this weekend.
“He pushed me and believed in me,” Eader wrote in an email.
“He was passionate and loved seeing my progression.”
Eader is hoping to be Watkins’ first student to reach the state meet since Emory George in 2010. Eader competes in the discus during the Division I regional meet Wednesday at Pickerington North. He and Jake Sanders compete in the shot put Friday.
“(Watkins) was coaching his athletes to break it, which was and is our goal this week,” Watkins head track coach Marty Dahlman said.
It did not take long for Watkins Memorial students and alumni to show an outpouring of support on social media for Watkins’ family as news spread Sunday morning. Watkins was a 1995 graduate, setting the school record in the shot put that year.
Watkins returned to his alma mater a few years after graduating from Eastern Kentucky. He taught in the social studies department, including psychology and sociology, and has been an assistant football and track coach for the past decade.
“His skills as a coach and his humor and drive as a person will be sorely missed,” Dahlman said.
Watkins is survived by his wife Amy, who also is a teacher in the Southwest Licking district, and their young daughter, Whitney.
Eader will be giving a little bit extra this week for his coach.
“He said that he wanted to see me break his record and wanted him with me if I do,” Eader said.
“He was one of my biggest fans. I will miss him like crazy and never get over him being gone.”