Marjorie Grap Continues to Develop in and out of the Circle
May 24, 2006
By Julie Moses, Bucknell Athletic Communications
Breathing and pacing back and forth, concentrating and locking her focus, junior Marjorie Grap prepares for battle; battle against her opponents and, more significantly, against herself.
Seeing Grap prepare for competition may seem puzzling, but her methods help her relax and calm any anxiety she may have before competing.
"I do a lot of breathing exercises to either calm me down or pump me up," says Grap. "I use a combination of breathing and pacing back and forth to meditate and clear out my mind. People probably stand there and wonder what I'm doing, but I'm just trying to calm my nerves."
There is one major factor blocking a good athlete from becoming great, and that is the mental toughness and confidence necessary to overcome any and every obstacle he or she may face. For Grap, throwing the weight, discus, hammer and shot put as part of the Bucknell women's track and field team bears no difference.
"My freshman and sophomore seasons, I would go into competition thinking I wasn't any good," says the Van Etten, N.Y., native. "I told myself there was no way I could compare with my competition, which probably hurt my throwing ability."
Knowing how negative thinking can affect her performance, Grap was determined to alter the way she felt about herself.
"This year, I changed my mindset and I now approach each competition believing I am just as good as everyone else out there," remarks Grap, who finished the indoor season ranked 17th in the nation in the 20-pound weight throw. "I just step into the circle and instead of thinking everyone else is better than me, I think `there is a possibility I am better than them.'"
Along with changing her way of thinking, Grap set high goals for herself for the 2005-06 indoor and outdoor campaigns.
"In the past, the NCAA typically took the top 18 performers in the indoor weight throw to nationals," remarks the junior, who currently owns the school record in the weight at 64 feet, 9 1/4 inches. "This year, however, the guidelines were changed and even though I was number 17, I missed going by two centimeters. My goals for indoor track were to consistently throw over 60 feet in the weight and earn a spot at nationals. In my mind, I did both. In outdoor, my goal in the discus was to improve and I already tied my personal record this season. In the hammer, with each adjustment I make I continue to grow stronger."
Ranked in the nation's top-60 in the hammer, it is surprising the Patriot League's 2006 gold-medal winner never even touched the event until arriving at Bucknell.
"I can only improve because I started out with nothing," remarks Grap. "I came into Bucknell not knowing anything about either the weight or the hammer, so I am expected to only grow in both events. There are always improvements that can be made and once the problems are fixed, it could mean all the difference in the world. In the hammer, it could mean an addition of 20 feet."
It is ironic, the girl who once thought everyone else was better, is now thought of as the girl to watch.
"Being one of the better throwers in the nation in the indoor season, people already seem to know who I am when I go to compete at a meet," says Grap. "Hearing people say, `watch her, you can learn something' to their athletes has boosted my self-confidence a great deal, knowing they are talking about me."
Just as Grap has people looking up to her, she also has her own role models.
"I am constantly watching videos of the world record hold in both the women's hammer and the 20-pound weight to see if I can learn something," says the NCAA East Regional qualifier in both the hammer and the discus. "I also look up to a friend who went to nationals in the shot put, discus and hammer last year. It's an amazing accomplishment after just a year and a half of training, having never thrown before."
After the 2006 outdoor competitive season is over, Grap may carry her success into the summer.
"I am considering participating in the Empire State Games, in Rochester, N.Y., a multi-sport event for amateur athletes living in New York," remarks Grap. "I competed in the Games in high school, so I might use them this summer for extra competition."
Before she can even think about securing any summer plans, however, Grap will be throwing in the NCAA East Regional Championships in Greensboro, N.C., on May 26-27. At Regionals, she will be forced to stay confident and focused as she reaches for her ultimate goal, a qualifying spot at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., scheduled for June 7-10.