NEW BUFFALO – Beth Rohl didn't pick up a discus or a shot put until her senior year at New Buffalo High School.
"It was just different," Rohl said. "I had no clue what I was doing. I just came out and kind of threw."
"She wins state," said New Buffalo science teacher and basketball coach Candy Van Buskirk. "Who does that? Well, Beth Rohl does that."
As the "USA" across her jersey during a summer practice session shows, things have worked out pretty well since then.
She walked on to the track and field team at Michigan State. By the time she graduated this spring, she was the most decorated thrower in school history
Rohl holds the Big Ten record in the discus throw, as well as Spartan records in the hammer and weight throws. She is a seven-time All-American, including a career-best third place finish in the discus at this year's NCAA Outdoor Championships.
"I think it's kind of everything," Rohl said when asked what she loves about her sport. "It's the hard work that goes into it. You really have to love it to excel at it, and keep going."
She was the top collegiate discus thrower at the USA Track and Field Championships in June. Her fourth-place finish means she will be an alternate for Team USA at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow later this summer.
"You go to other countries and people look at you," Rohl said of traveling with Team USA. "They're like, 'They're from the United States, they're here to work. We got to watch out for them.' "
Her rapid rise, and all those accolades, caught the attention of three-time Olympian Mac Wilkins. Rohl will move to Portland in August to train with the 1976 gold medalist and pursue a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
"He's the master of it," said Rohl. "Getting that opportunity to work with him, you can't turn it down."
"She has a focus and determination that will serve her well," Wilkins wrote in an email. "She has done very well and has big potential. I expect her to compete internationally next year."
But it costs money to dream this big. Van Buskirk is part of a fundraising group asking local businesses to support their local star.
"That's the type of role model you want your daughter to look up to," Van Buskirk said.
For more information on the group's efforts, including how to donate, fans can visit the Facebook page "SteamRohler - Dream Big with Beth Rohl!"
Van Buskirk's own daughter met Rohl at a recent dinner.
"We get home and my daughter is flexing," Van Buskirk remembers. "She's like, 'Do you think I'll ever be as strong as Beth Rohl?' "
It is a long journey from New Buffalo, Michigan to Portland, Oregon and potentially to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games. But Rohl isn't worried about getting burned out by her passion. After all, she's really just getting started.
"I will find a way to make it happen," Rohl said. "Don't tell me no."
To learn more about Beth's efforts to make the 2016 Olympic Games, visit "SteamRohler - Dream Big with Beth Rohl!"