A tribute to Jarred Rome, deceased Olympian and Iron Wood director

by Steve Underwood

The NSAF was greatly saddened Sunday to learn of the passing of Jarred Rome – the 2-time Olympic discus thrower, collegiate coach and Iron Wood Throws Classic and Development Camp director – who died in his sleep Saturday night, Sept. 21, in Tulalip, Washington. He was 42 and had been in his hometown for his induction into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame three days earlier.

For the past four years, the NSAF has enjoyed a tremendous partnership with Rome and Iron Wood founder Bart Templeman, with the launching of the Classic in 2016 at the one-of-a-kind throws facility in Rathdrum, Idaho. The unique meet, directed by Rome with passion and love, has allowed a team of NSAF boys’ and girls’ shot putters and hammer, discus and javelin throwers to compete with and be mentored by elite Team USA-level throwers over a full weekend each June.

This year’s event (May 31-June 1) was punctuated during the BBQ dinner finale with an unforgettable presentation by Rome – celebrating the weekend’s successes and filled with motivational anecdotes. Rome commanded the room for more than 20 minutes and as great a thrower as he was in his prep, collegiate and professional career, his continued heartfelt contributions to the throwing community and sport overall have been perhaps even greater.

Rome, with a career best of 225-7 in the discus, was a 2-time Olympian in the event (2004, 2012), as well as a 2-time USATF champion (2004 Olympic Trials, plus 2011). He represented Team USA four times at the IAAF World Championships (2005-07-09-11), with a top finish of 7th in 2005. He was also the Pan American Games silver medalist in 2011. Rome was ranked in the Track and Field News top 10 in the discus every year but one from 2001-2013, including #2 five times. He also world-ranked 9th in 2005 and ’06.

At Boise State University, Rome was a 6-time NCAA All-American in the shot and discus from 1995-2000. He was inducted into the Bronco Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, where he was called the “most honored individual track and field student-athlete in the history of the program at Boise State University.” As a prep at Marysville-Pilchuck HS (Class of ’95) in Washington, he excelled in football, basketball and track and field, but didn’t really begin throwing seriously until late in his prep career.

Rome first came to Iron Wood as a camper from 1993-95, then became a coach there in 1996 and eventually the camp director. On the camp website he said, “Iron Wood is the reason for my success as a thrower and I am dedicated to teaching what I have learned over the past 25 years as a professional thrower to young athletes, so that they may too achieve their throwing goals.”

Rome was Associate Head Coach and Throws Center Director at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon from 2013-18 and was named U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association National Assistant Coach of the Year for spring of ’18. He was then hired as throws coach for Boston University in fall of 2018 – having married Pamela Spuehler, a Hall of Fame field hockey player for the Terriers, the previous year.

During his presentation at the Iron Wood Throws Classic, while shouting out the winning performances of NSAF Project Javelin athletes Sam Hankins and Skylar Ciccolini, Rome was reminded of stories from his own development as an athlete – particularly regarding what he learned from legendary sprints coach Brooks Johnson.

“One of the greatest things he ever told me was, ‘You need to be able to win on a bad day,’” he said, “because how many great days do we really have? How many days do you have where you think about nothing … and it’s a new PR?

“Not many. I did 420-something competitions in 21 years and I can probably count five, maybe half a dozen days where it was like, I didn’t think and it was perfect. So what are all the other days? Not the greatest days.”

Rome continued with describing had impressed him so much with Ciccolini, having known she came in with a 184-2 PR and struggled before winning at 170. “It wasn’t a good day, was it, Skylar?” he said. “But you know what, when a bad day is 170 … (then) you can still win on a bad day. Because you do not have that many great days.”

He contrasted that with Brooke Andersen’s unexpected PR day in the hammer, where she nearly broke the American record, then again came back to his main point of being able to triumph while not at one’s best, adding, “That’s what we’re all trying to do, because anyone can win on a good day.”

With that, he concluded with “hats off to Skylar!” as the room exploded with tremendous applause.

In his Snohomish County Hall of Fame induction speech, according to a story by Nick Patterson on heraldnet.com, he said his success came from learning from failure and immeasurable support. “I had lots of failure,” he said. “I was never the top thrower in high school; I was never the top thrower in college … I considered myself to be the hardest worker. I never had the talent, I frankly never believed I could make the national team, that was never a goal of mine. The support I have shows tonight. My family and friends who are here, without your support I would never be here. I would never have gotten past high school and gone onto Boise State and for sure make two Olympic teams.”


Jarred's full Iron Wood Classic presentation (Youtube; 23:30)


Jarred's Iron Wood Classic presentation "Can you win on a bad day" segment (Facebook; 4:50)

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