Where Kord Ferguson is from, hard work is the only way to earn anything.
The senior disc and shot put thrower carried that mentality from Ottawa, Kansas, to Tuscaloosa, where he has built a reputation as a tireless worker, constantly trying to improve his craft.
After last season, there’s only so much room for improvement at the college level. Ferguson finished sixth in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships, then went on to place fourth in discus at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. His success last year prompted a conversation about leaving Alabama a year early to seek a professional career.
“There was a lot of conversations,” Ferguson said. “I really did a lot of praying about it and that time will come when I’m ready for it. I pictured 30 or 40 years down the road looking back and saying ‘You know what, you’re not going to regret staying at Alabama, the place that you love and your friends are here and your teammates and the people who are going to support you.’”
The feeling of being part of a team for another season was something Ferguson didn’t want to bypass. Not only does Ferguson want to achieve an individual championship this year, he wants to help his team win a championship.
“Kord is a heck of a teammate. He knows what our distance runners are doing. He knows what the personal bests are of our sprinters and jumpers as well,” throws coach Derek Yush said. “He’s a guy that could have gone on and looked for a pro contract last year, but came back because he wanted to win for the team and win with the team.”
Team success hasn’t always been at the forefront of Ferguson’s mind. When he started throwing in high school, he viewed track strictly as an individual enterprise. It wasn’t until he came to Alabama, where head coach Dan Waters has instilled a culture of camaraderie, that he started to care about his teammates’ performances. Now, he’s one of the first track and field athletes to approach Waters or Yush during a meet and discuss the team’s overall performance and chances of winning.
Ferguson is passionate about Alabama achieving at the highest level, which means that he has to perform at the highest level as well. From his freshman year to this senior season, Ferguson has made great strides in his throwing ability. The first step was adding weight. Ferguson has packed on 50 pounds – up from 230 to 280 – in four years.
Next came perfecting his skill.
“The thing that I see the most out of him is that he’s 100 percent bought into our training plan and 100 percent bought into his training situation,” Yush said. “I think he’s really gone the extra mile to make himself a better thrower.”
That extra mile requires an almost scholastic approach to watching throwing videos and honing his technique. When Ferguson practices, not only does he work to implement the techniques he learns from Yush and online videos, but he does so with an intensity that is usually reserved for meets.
“He’s an intense guy,” Yush said. “He’s not afraid to show that in practice. He keeps creeping up on almost a meet-level intensity in practice, which is really good.”
What drives Ferguson’s intensity and work ethic is the room between sixth and first, which he hopes on closing at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham this weekend. He will be competing in the shot put as the No. 7 seed after placing second in the event at the SEC Championships.
“I think the guy is an NCAA champion, whether it’s the shot put or discus or both,” Yush said. “I firmly believe the bigger meets are in front of him and he’s got a chance to win a national championship both indoors and outdoors.”
Alabama track and field men’s entrants for the NCAA Indoor Championships (seed/mark)
• Shelby McEwen, Jr., High Jump (1st/2.31m)
• Kord Ferguson, Sr., Shot Put (7th/19.89m)
• Keitavious Walter, Sr., 200 meters (10th/20.68)
• Gilbert Kigen, Sr., 5,000 meters (11th/13:40.14)
• Vincent Kiprop, Sr., 5,000 meters (16th/13:41.21)
• Bobby Colantonio Jr, Fr., Weight Throw (16th/21.63m