Klein discusses recent success, takes it one step at a time

Jacob Wu

When senior Maxwell Klein broke his own previously held record with a shot of 65 feet and three and one-fourth inches earlier this month, it almost felt normal. After all, Klein has broken this record numerous times during his four years at North, including shattering the school’s historical record held by Joel Dennis ‘79 in 1978.

Klein’s latest performance has earned him national recognition. On Mar. 13, 2022, Klein won the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships in shot put, a competition that takes place each year in New York City.

As Klein wraps up his season at North and prepares for his next chapter at Dartmouth College, he sat down with The Newtonite to reflect on his athletic career thus far, and what he aspires to achieve in his future years at college and beyond. Below are edited excerpts from our conversation. 


What sparked your interest in the sport?

I’ve competed in shot put since sixth grade. My brother began as a freshman here and it’s something I wanted to do as well. I wasn’t very good at first, but I realized that it’s something that not many people, at least at the middle school level do, and that if I work hard I can be successful. 

Did you ever have a breakout year?

No, I wouldn’t say so. In freshman year I threw 43 ft indoors 46 ft Outdoors. In sophomore year I did 53 ft indoors, but then COVID-19 happened. In Junior year I went from 53 to 63 feet, another 10 foot improvement, and this year I’m at 67 so a 5 foot improvement. It’s a steady improvement each year.  

How were you able to create a 5 to 10 foot improvement each year?

It’s different each time. The 10 foot difference from freshman to sophomore year was almost entirely technique, and when I say technique I mean the positions you’re holding in the ring so if you take a snapshot of that moment hitting that ideal position. In sophomore year to junior year, though, it was more so speed and timing. The differences from those years to this one has been putting all those previous focuses into one.

How have your coaches and teammates helped you along your journey?

When I was in middle school, I did a lot of my shot put on my own. Back then, YouTube was a pretty helpful tool. Once I got to North though, coach Bower was incredible. The way Bower has coached me has kind of changed. Back in my freshman and sophomore years, it was a lot more of bringing up the spin and hitting the specific positions. He almost always thinks positionally, which means that he focuses on where my foot is. There’s a lot of things that he does, and we drilled that in to make that process natural. I love my teammates, but I spent a lot of time throwing without them over the COVID-19 lockdown. Throwing is monotonous and most of the time it’s doing something again and again for well over an hour. It can be frustrating because your technique is not always looking like how you want it to, and the distance isn’t really where you want it, so it is always helpful to have someone there.

Do you have a pregame ritual or meal?

There is a pregame meal. I’m generally not a superstitious person, but these things just happened. Before a weekend meet on Saturday or Sunday, I have toast with peanut butter and some eggs. That has stayed consistent, but as I’ve gotten older I think that I’ve added more food, but there’s always going to be peanut butter on toast with eggs. One thing that’s not unique but I do is that 2- 3 hours before I throw I don’t really listen to music. I started doing this because there was a meet in 7th grade, where I was listening to music to try and get into the zone, but I threw poorly that day, so I figured it was because of the music. 

Is your shot put success from talent and natural ability or from hard work?

I don’t have a definite answer, but in this sport you see a lot of taller guys, and I am definitely on the shorter side. But then again I do have some pretty good genetics when it comes to strength training and muscle building. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, you got what you got, so you just have to work. I don’t think you can really put one definition for someone’s talent. 

How are your coaches and teammates reacting to your success?

There is just a lot of love. I really appreciate everyone around me: teammates, coaches, and family, especially those closest to me. They still treat me the same, but others may treat me a little bit differently, which again I appreciate. There is just a lot of support.

Have you set any future goals for yourself?

Personally I don’t like setting distance goals. I love the sport and the reason I continue training at it is because I love it. I find that if I give myself a distance goal, it gets in my head and it actually becomes harder to hit it. Ideally I improve, which I think will always be a goal, but specific goals tend to throw people off. What the actual goals would be in college is again to improve, but also to have fun and enjoy it. It’s not going to be there forever, but I really love this sport, and I want to keep on training at it.