A small girl in the small town of Altamont, N.Y., had a big dream: to qualify for the Olympics. Not for her current sport of track and field, but rather gymnastics.
“I wanted to go to the Olympics so bad,” Matlyn Gross said.
Gross, a senior on the women’s track and field team, had what she called “a happy mistake.” From the moment she could walk until she was 12 years old, Gross was a gymnast.
However, her best friend dragged her into cross country – a sport she hated. From there, she transitioned into track and field.
Her dad, John Gross, remembers the move like it was yesterday.
“I recall her first mentor, Coach Usher, was shorter than her, and watching the two of them discussing jumping strategy by the side of the pit was almost comical,” he said.
Outside of athletics, Gross is a very authentic person.
“Matlyn likes to travel. Beaches are always fun, and hanging out with a couple of simple games and puzzles,” John said.
If she were not doing those things, she would often be found reading, as that was another passion through her adolescence.
“Matlyn is extremely honest and has more integrity than most of the professionals I deal with on a daily basis,” John said.
Perhaps her charisma blossomed her into the successful student-athlete she is today.
However, that would only come after thriving at Guilderland High School (NY). Throughout her career there, she went to nationals three times: twice for running and once for jumping.
Gross’s outstanding performance caught the attention of Springfield College. As a result, she got the opportunity to do an overnight, and immediately felt that Springfield College would soon become home.
“It was the team for me,” Gross said. “It was better than any other place and school I had been to. I loved the kids on the team.”
Upon her arrival, Gross found her role, and her feelings toward the team have remained the same.
“I love the jumpers; they will have a special place in my heart. Also, we have my wonderful graduate assistant as a coach, she is everything I needed,” she said.
The Pride train six times a week with both lifts and practices. The mix of team chemistry, hard work and consistency has propelled Gross to her best season this year.
Her work ethic is the main reason why, according to her father.
“Clearly, athletics has contributed to this organized and trained focus and has developed her ‘can do’ attitude,” John said. “Nothing is out of reach for her.”
Gross is six inches away from the school record in the triple jump. Coupled with this, her recent personal record was a whopping 40 centimeters longer than her previous best.
Additionally, Gross is ranked sixth in the country, with the top 20 going to nationals.
“These accomplishments are definitely a motivator,” Gross said. “I am grateful for where I am now, and going to nationals would be a dream come true.”
Her display of a genuine persona adds to her already impressive repertoire.
“She possesses a high degree of self-discipline and intensity to exceed her own expectations,” her father said. “She leads by example and exhibits a strong understanding and caring for others, especially underserved people in need of guidance and support.”
Gross attributed her success to the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
Her advice to younger athletes doesn’t get any simpler. “Remember to eat your breakfast.”
John knows his daughter’s potential and is ready to see it unfold through her genuineness.
“She will readily accept responsibility for falling short, which generally never happens. She epitomizes team play and is an MVP in my eyes,” he said.