GRACE PAPP, ST. MARY’S COLLEGE OF MARYLAND
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.”