April 10, 2014

Student-Athlete Spotlight: Maddie Gray (Women's Swimming & Diving)

During NCAA Division III Week (April 7-13), UW-Eau Claire Athletics is posting spotlights from select Blugolds each day throughout the week. Today's post features Maddie Gray, who competes in women's swimming & diving.

View Division III Week Info

Name: Maddie Gray

Hometown/High School: Roseville, Minn./Roseville Area

Year: Sophomore

Sport: Swimming

Major: English Education

Minor: Learning Disabilities

Why did you choose to be a Division III student-athlete?

I chose to be a Division III student-athlete because I loved the sport of swimming too much to give it up and I wanted to swim at a competitive level, while still being able to attend a high quality institution and focus on my education.

What do you like most about competing in the WIAC

The thing I like most about competing in the WIAC is that it is extremely competitive, but there is also a great sense of unity and camaraderie among the different teams.  I have become great friends with some of my fiercest competition, and it is a lot of fun to be able to make those connections.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being a student-athlete?

Being a student athlete has taught me many things, but the greatest lesson I have learned has probably been that a positive attitude can accomplish almost anything, in the classroom, the pool, and just life in general.  Swimming is an extremely tough sport, and workouts can be mentally challenging and well as physically; it is important to stay optimistic and push through mental roadblocks in order to be physically successful.  In school, classes get confusing and frustrating or boring, but it helps to try and find a bright side, or a real-life application.  Keeping a positive attitude can get you through a lot, and allows you to enjoy what you are doing much more.

Who has been the most influential person in your athletic career?

The most influential person in my athletic career has been my first ever swim coach, Blair.  Blair taught me how to swim the competitive strokes, and really sparked my passion for swimming.  He instilled in me a sense of how important technique is, how to swim smart, and how to focus during a tough practice.  I can honestly say that without him, I would not be a college athlete today.

If you have been involved in community service projects, which project has been the most rewarding and why?

The most rewarding community service project I have been involved in is volunteering at local elementary schools to play with students there.  It allowed me to share my passion for education and athletics and it is a lot of fun to talk to the kids and get to know them.  A lot of them are looking for a role model, and it is extremely humbling and gratifying to be in a position to fill that role.

If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what one question would you ask them?  

If I could meet an athlete, it would be Missy Franklin (Olympic gold medalists and world-record holder).  I would ask her how she handles her nerves with so much pressure, and for a picture of course!

What is your greatest sports moment?  

My greatest sports moment was breaking a minute in the 100 backstroke for the first time at WIAC Conference Championships last year.  It was a moment that was 3 years in the making and it was on a relay so I got to share it with my entire team.

What is/are your favorite TV shows?

I don't watch very much TV, but my favorite show is/was Breaking Bad.

What is/are your favorite foods?

I love pretty much all food, but I would have to go with baked potatoes and cheesecake. 

If you could live any place in the world, where would it be?

I would live in New Zealand!

What does your "bucket list" include?

The biggest thing on my "bucket list" is to travel.  I want to go anywhere and everywhere, but especially Greece, Turkey, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.  I also want to compete in an Iron Man Triathlon, read every book by Tolstoy, and learn how to knit.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If I could have a superpower it would probably be the ability to breathe underwater.  It would certainly make swimming a lot easier!

How would your teammates describe you?

My teammates would probably describe me as a very positive person who works really hard.  I take practice very seriously, but my favorite part of being a member of Blugold swimming is how much we support each other, so I take cheering pretty seriously too!

Do you have any pre-game/pre-event rituals? If so, what are they?

Before every race I crack my back, touch my toes, and give a thumbs-up to my teammates at the end of my lane.  I like to try and stay relaxed and loose before a race, so I often chat with the swimmers around me as well.

What is your dream job? 

My dream job is teaching high school English and coaching a swim team.