Student Spotlight: Tom Pukstys
Major: Associate in Applied Science
Tom Pukstys was introduced to the javelin because his brother roomed with a javelin thrower in college.
“I was intrigued by the beauty of the flight, and I always enjoyed throwing things anyway,” he said. “But when I was attending Eastern Illinois University, it just didn't fit. EIU saw me as a point scorer at conference in four events, and I saw myself as only a javelin thrower.”
College of DuPage was recommended by a noted coach, Joe Newton, of York High School, and Pukstys quickly discovered it was a great choice. Since he drove 35 minutes to school, he spent extra time on campus to pick up his grades and develop his athletic skills, focusing on the javelin.
“Several aspects that COD offered just fit me perfectly. Classes were tough but manageable, Coach Ron Oottoson was the perfect influence for my intensity, and the team was very talented, fun loving and crazy, but not full of stupidity,” he said. “COD just gave me the opportunity to mature and get a hold on my academics and athletic skills.”
He threw an American Junior Record of 234-1 while at College of DuPage. In 1988, Pukstys transferred to the University of Florida, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in public relations, and developed into the top javelin thrower in the U.S. During a 14-year professional track career, he was the U.S. javelin champion six times, was ranked #1 in the U.S. seven times by Track and Field News, and qualified for six World Track and Field Championships. He participated at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, finishing 10th, and at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, finishing 8th.
“My Olympic experience is just a completely moving experience. It shakes your soul, rattles your spine and leaves you at the edge of a scream most of the time you are awake,” he said. “I have a great family life but my Olympic sensations are hard to beat.”
Since 2002, Pukstys has trained athletes in the private sector. In 2012, he was an assistant track and field coach for the U.S. Olympic team in London. He is currently working on a project as executive director for a large training center in Chicago.
“In my last business venture, I made a mistake and entrusted others with my success and was bowled over,” he said. “It will take some time to recover, but I am working on being a director of a training center. My passion is incredibly strong to help athletes and create a comfortable environment for people to do work, play or conduct business.”
Pukstys is fond of his experiences at College of DuPage and understands its importance in his life.
“I just appreciate the administration of COD recognizing my past and allowing me to voice my opinions to the COD family,” he said. “It turns out COD was incredibly important in my life and I will always have fond memories of my time there.
“It is very likely COD has a field you will enjoy, it is very likely COD has experts teaching you in that field, and it is very likely COD has top-tier facilities for you to learn in your chosen field. All at a price that is favorable. Just go for it. You can get anywhere you want from College of DuPage.”
2014 College of DuPage