Championship quality: Destiny Griffin, a former athlete at West Forsyth, proved second chances are sometimes best, recently capturing CIAA indoor shot put crown

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

Maybe she’s just that good.  

Two years since Destiny Griffin, who competed in the shot put and played girls basketball at West Forsyth, and later competed in and won the 2019 NCHSAA Class 4-A indoor shot put championship at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

After graduating from West Forsyth in 2019, she competed on the indoor and out track-and-field teams at East Carolina, and after eventually transferring to Winston-Salem State, she decided to pick it up again.

The chance she took worked, and she won the women’s CIAA Indoor Track and Field Championship earlier this month at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem with a throw of 13.56 meters, which is 44.49 feet.

“I thought I had a chance to score,” she said. “I didn’t know for sure if I was going to win. I was like, you never know. Even when I was in high school, I never threw that far until we got to the championship.”

In the fall of 2022, Griffin was at home, but she was working and going to school at WSSU. She never stopped going to school. The track-and-field coaches already knew that her brother David was playing football at WSSU, so Coach Antonio Wells of the WSSU track-and-field team tried to get her to throw the shot put there. 

Initially, it wasn’t going to work with her school and work schedule. That changed early this year when East Carolina, which is an NCAA Division I team, had an indoor meet at JDL. Griffin went to the meet to see some of her teammates. While giving tips to throwers at both East Carolina and WSSU, which competes at Division II. 

“Coach Wells came over there and he was like, ‘Are you going to keep dodging us or are you are going to come throw with us?,’” Griffin said. “And I’m like, ‘If I can figure out how to work it in my schedule.’”  

After committing to compete at WSSU, Griffin was eventually cleared by the NCAA to compete the first weekend of this February at VMI. The following week, she competed in the CIAA championship.  

“The championship was my second meet,” she said. “…Didn’t touch no weights, none of that. I didn’t even have no throwing shoes. I didn’t think I was going to do track again, just how I put myself in a deep hole. I just didn’t get want to get back in that hole, so like I had given all my shoes to the kids at West. I didn’t have all my throwing stuff. I just donated it.” 

Winning in shot put is nothing new for Griffin, who is a senior academically at WSSU, but is competing as a junior in track and field. She won the NCHSAA Class 4-A indoor track-and-field shot put championship at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem in 2019 as part of West Forsyth High School. Just weeks later, she was part of the NCHSAA Class 4-A girls basketball state-championship team that defeated Southeast Raleigh at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.  

“I haven’t thrown in two years,” Griffin said. “So, I only had one meet before that and one practice. So, it’s like I’m not really looking to win. I’m just coming to figure out where I’m at and beginning to go to outdoors.” 

Griffin isn’t a novice in the shot put. Winning the 2019 indoor shot put championship, she finished with a throw of 42 feet, 8 inches, outdistancing runner-up Autumn Judd of Southeast Raleigh, who had 40-93/4. Later that spring at the NCHSAA Class 4-A Outdoor Track and Field championship at N.C. A&T in Greensboro, Griffin tried to duplicate the indoor championship that February. She came up just short, finishing runner-up to Ragsdale’s Katlin McGoogan, who threw 38-113/4. Griffin threw 38-111/4. 

After graduating from West Forsyth in June 2019, she went to East Carolina that fall. She redshirted there her freshman year.  

“I redshirted because I didn’t feel like I was, you know, completely ready to – I was still learning, well coming from high school to college I was doing the glide,” she said. “So, when I got to college, I was learning the rotation. I was doing well with it. It’s just that I didn’t feel that I was at the level that I was competing I didn’t feel I was at that level yet.” 

According to Griffin, the difference in the glide technique versus the rotation is about the footwork. 

“You need to make you’re at the right angle, just not rushing it,” she said. “Just staying low. Make sure you’re using your legs more. The glide, it’s pretty much jumping back whereas the rotation is basically doing turns.” 

After redshirting, COVID-19 hit in March 2020, so Griffin came home and worked out at WSSU and Reynolds Park. After three years at East Carolina, she eventually came home. 

“I was always going to stay in college,” Griffin said. “It was just I have mental block and I kind of just didn’t want to do track anymore. When I was at ECU like my major was exercise physiology, so a lot of times I’m supposed to be in class, and I was having meets. And they’re like, I’m trying to catch up with the work and like mentally it was a lot. 

“I was drained all the time. Even that last year at ECU, like I really was going to stop doing track before, but I gotta pull through for the team. I already have like all these high expectations, so I might as well just pull through.” 

Griffin said that she was thinking about transferring midway through that last season at East Carolina. Part of that was her obligation to her family. Griffin is one of 10 children. Eight of the children are with parents David and Candise Eldridge. David, the oldest brother, played football at West Forsyth and now plays at WSSU.  Davion Eldridge is a senior on the West Forsyth football team, as well as junior Daviare, and sophomore Daviel. There is sister Daviah, Daviance, brother Davis,  and sister Davannah. Destiny and sister DeMyah Griffin share the same mother as the other eight children.

“I was always used to being home with my siblings, just making sure they was OK,” Destiny Griffin said. “And, you know, my brothers, they started going to high school and asking me all these questions. I mentioned all their games. They were always there for me. So, I did get a little homesick. My freshman year, I was home every weekend.” 

She competed at East Carolina in 2021-22 in both indoor and outdoor. Then, she came home. 

“I’m used to putting myself, not necessarily last, but like everything before what I need,” Griffin said. “So, I really had to have a heart-to-heart with myself and with my mom, like I have to do what’s best for me. I’m not here. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy academically-wise. It started affecting everything else.” 

Griffin said her highest grades at the time were a C-. As she said, she got behind and called it a “repeated cycle.” The question was what she was going to do when she came back home.   

“I was always going to go back (to school), whether it was community,” she said. “In our family, we have this thing that if you start something you have to finish it. And the only way you can finish it is like is if it’s something life-threatening. My mom always says, you’ve to not only have a Plan A and Plan B, you’ve always got to have Plan C.”  

This past weekend, Griffin and WSSU competed in the USC Indoor Open in Columbia, S.C. Griffin finished eighth in the shot put with a throw of 12.69 meters, which is 41-73/4 feet.   

Griffin, who isn’t on athletic scholarship, hopes to get a partial or full athletic scholarship at WSSU, still has the outdoor season and up to two more years of eligibility, depending on what she decides. She could also graduate and be a child psychiatrist or an occupational therapist. She could also go to grad school at WSSU or another school. 

“(The shot put) has just given me hope again,” Griffin said. “Like, it’s OK to take a step back.”