Sailing World - - Starting Line - —Jen Mitchell

Grace Papp started sail­ing at An­nisquam YC in Gloucester, Mas­sachusetts, at the age of 8. She was a busy kid: sail­ing, play­ing the pi­ano and lacrosse, and prac­tic­ing mixed mar­tial arts. She won Miss Mas­sachusetts High School and com­peted in the National Miss High School pageant in 2015, ex­pe­ri­ences that she says gave her con­fi­dence and helped set her up to be a role model.

She found her­self right at home on the St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land Sail­ing Team, where she’s cur­rently a junior and co-cap­tain.

“She is a good team leader and an im­pres­sive cap­tain,” says head coach Adam Werblow. “She turns over ev­ery stone and is driven to be a suc­cess.”

“We all have each other’s backs and try to build each other up with con­struc­tive crit­i­cism or pos­i­tive com­ments,” says Papp. “We are a fam­ily at St. Mary’s.”

Her love of com­pet­ing in col­lege in­spired her to make per­sonal changes. “Some­thing that has stuck with me is what our coach, Con­nor Blouin, says: ‘You can’t con­trol the wind, wa­ter or other parts of a race, but you can con­trol your own body.’ That is one thing I have fo­cused on as a cap­tain, and I think our team has fol­lowed my ex­am­ple. I’m proud of how much we’ve been grind­ing this sea­son.”

Papp also at­tributes sail­ing to help­ing her in the class­room. She has made the Dean’s List sev­eral times, and her goal is to grad­u­ate summa cum laude. “My fo­cus from sail­ing is ap­par­ent on and off the wa­ter,” she says. “The world of col­lege sail­ing has not only made me a bet­ter ath­lete, but also a bet­ter stu­dent, friend, cap­tain, sib­ling and daugh­ter.”

Papp hopes to con­tinue sail­ing after she grad­u­ates, and even in­cor­po­rate it into her ca­reer. She is ap­ply­ing to the masters of ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at St. Mary’s, with the goal of earn­ing her doc­tor­ate in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion. “I love kids, teach­ing and sail­ing,” she says, “and hope to com­bine those things.”

There are plenty of semesters in front of her, so in the mean­time, she’s fo­cus­ing on al­ways be­ing in the mind­set that she is about to com­pete. “I want to be ready to give it all that I have phys­i­cally and men­tally,” she says. “I want to con­tinue to be a pos­i­tive force, and a good friend, team­mate and cap­tain.”

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