Salisbury women’s track & field senior Meghan McGowan is fresh off her third-straight All-America performance at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, placing sixth in the high jump. She will open her outdoor campaign this weekend at the 49er Classic. While she’s thrived throughout her athletic career at Salisbury, there’s much more to her than just her athletic prowess. INTRODUCING … Meghan McGowan.
Briefly, what is your background in the sport you play?
I started track and field my freshman year of high school. I always liked running and as high school was approaching, a lot of my friends were trying out for various sports, and I thought, “I need to do something!” I had actually made a deal with a friend of mine that I would run cross country with her if she tried out for track with me in the winter. I ended up falling in love with the sport, and stuck with it throughout high school and onto college (cross country however, was a different story). My event is the high jump, and that started out by my high school coach putting me in the event one random meet (even though I had no idea what I was doing) and saying, “Just get over the bar!”
What is your major in college, and what is the most important thing you learned in that discipline?
My major is social work, with a minor in psychology. I love this field of work, and it is one of the most rewarding fields out there in my opinion. The most important thing I’ve learned is that there will always be people who need help, or social issues that can’t be solved. However, if you can help just one person, one family, or make some sort of social impact, you will change the life of someone (or many people) who really need it.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus has always been Cool Beans. It’s small, quiet, and was my go-to place when I needed to just get away to do work, study, or honestly just think. However, with the new Chick-Fil-A on campus, my mind might be changed by the end of the year!
Outside of your home and campus, where is your favorite place visit?
My favorite place is most definitely the beach. To me, there is nothing better than sitting on the beach, reading a good book, and listening to music. It never gets old, and I could be out there ALL DAY LONG! My favorite beach is a close tie between Wildwood, New Jersey and the Outer Banks, North Carolina, but if you put me on any beach with a book and a blanket, I’ll be happy!
Other than your team, what organization (s) do you participate in (on campus or off campus)?
I recently got inducted into the Honor Society for the Social Work Program here at Salisbury University. I am also a part of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee), where we try and advocate for Division III athletes, along with getting all of the sports on campus to become involved within the community through volunteer, fundraising, etc.
Briefly describe the most memorable experience during your collegiate athletic career.
I think my most memorable experience during my athletic career was the first time I qualified for the NCAA National Championship during the indoor season of my sophomore year (2015). I didn’t expect on qualifying, and I didn’t even realize I had until one of our coaches said, “you’re number 9 on the national list!” after I was done competing at the New York Armory for the ECAC Championship. This was the weekend before Nationals, so the likelihood of me staying in that top 19 (roughly) that they take to Nationals was high. The whole experience was truly amazing! Between the traveling, the banquet dinner, competing, the award ceremony, I have never soaked in and truly enjoyed an experience more than this!
However, a close second to this memory is last Indoor Nationals (2016) when I watched our men’s 4x400 meter relay win the National title. They made Salisbury Track and Field History, and I was so proud of my teammates, and I had so much pride being a Sea Gull that day! I felt, and still feel honored that I was able to be there with them and experience that moment.
Other than your family members, who was the most influential person in your life?
Besides my family, I have two people who are the most influential people in my life. The first is my best friend Mel. Mel and I have been friends for 8+ years now, and it’s the kind of friendship you just know is going to last forever. I’ve never had to question whether she cares about our friendship, and she is honest with me about every aspect of life, which is a hard trait to come by. I have also never had a friend who is so supportive of all my goals and dreams as Mel is. She arguably gets more excited about my athletic (and non athletic) accomplishments than I do. Mel is someone I can truly depend on, and she has never let me down. We motivate each other to become the best versions of ourselves, an even when we’ve been at our lowest we pick each other up and carry on. She is definitely the most uplifting person I know, and I will forever aspire to be half the person she is!
The second most influential person in my life besides my family is my boyfriend, Luke. Luke inspires me to be a better athlete and person every day. He pushes me to be the best version of myself, and I can talk to him about anything and everything. It’s a rare commodity to be with someone who truly understands your lifestyle and goals as an athlete, because he is an athlete himself. He’s an amazing person, and I feel as though we teach each other a lot, and also learn from each other, which helps us grow stronger individually and together.
What is the most important societal issue facing college students?
There are various societal issues that college student’s face that it is hard to pinpoint the “most important.” One that comes to mind almost immediately for me is the difficulty college students have finding jobs after they graduate. Most jobs want experience, but our argument as college students is, “Well, we can’t get experience if we never get hired.” I’ve also read that a bachelor’s degree is the equivalent to having a high school diploma, meaning businesses and agencies want people with a higher level of education than just a bachelor’s. I’m not sure just how accurate that is, but it was definitely interesting to think about.
If you could change any one item in the world (in your personal life, school, community, amateur or professional sports, national/international issue, etc.), what would it be, why, and how would you do it?
If I could change one thing about the world, I would make people more accepting of others. It saddens me how judgmental people are because of someone’s sexuality, race, gender, religion, and the list goes on and on. I want to live in a world where “what you are” isn’t even a thought in our minds, and it has no effect on how we treat others/are treated. If there was some way I could educate the entire world about this topic, I would, because I feel as though that’s the only way an issue like this is going to become resolved.
What is your favorite form of entertainment?
Music is definitely my favorite form of entertainment! I listen to certain genres/songs depending on what kind of mood I’m in, how my day is going, etc. For example, in the mornings when I’m getting ready for track meets, I listen to John Mayer because it’s calm and soothing to me, but then on the bus I have my “pump-up” playlist that gets me excited and ready to compete!
If you could give one piece of advice to elementary school children, what would that advice be?
I would tell them to stay active, and never get too old for playing outside with your friends!
Outside of the CAC, who or what is your favorite sports person or team?
Chaunté Lowe is my favorite athlete by far. Chaunté is an American High Jumper and is truly an inspiration. Chaunté had a rough childhood-her parent’s both struggled with drug addictions, they lost their house when she was in 6th grade, and she eventually went to live with her grandmother full time. Track and Field was her escape from everything bad. She’s now 32 and married to Mario Lowe, a professional triple jumper (and also her coach). Mario and Chaunté also faced poverty, but continued to move forward the best they could. Chaunté took a year off of her professional career to give birth to her daughter. Chaunté competed in the Rio Olympics placing 6th (she also competed in 2008 placing 6th, and in 2004, but she didn’t make finals). She is the American record holder for both indoor and outdoor Track and Field in the High Jump! I have nothing but pure respect for Chaunté, and she deserves every ounce of praise she gets!
Name three (3) people, real or fictional, living or dead, that you'd like to have dinner with (and why)?
1) Lauren Graham. She is my favorite actress, and was someone I truly looked up to during my childhood watching the show, “Gilmore Girls”. I’ve also read some of her books, and I just love the positive and enthusiastic vibes that she gives off in her books as well as characters on shows, movies, etc.
2) My grandfather (Pop)
3) My uncle
I chose 2 & 3 because both of these family members have passed away and I would give anything to have one more conversation with them.