Mary Gradt – Texas Interview by Olivia Bush Nomination & Photography by Big Shots Photography Issue 36 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: “Career ending injury” echoed in her head as the tears began to fall. Mary was competing at a Regional Powerlifting meet when she just finished the perfect squat, 250 lbs, and setting a personal record, but an accident occurred that left her with a humorous snapped in two. Five days of bone on bone grinding before a ten hole plate and nine screws would begin the 12 week healing process. Throughout the three month recovery, Mary inspired others to stay positive and joyful during hard times! She never gave up, she kept smiling and remained hopeful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What inspired you to want to start powerlifting? Are there any athletes you look up to? Why? Throughout high school, I was involved in many clubs. Staying busy with homework, meetings and practices was something I really enjoyed! I was always looking for something new to be a part of. One of my teachers during my junior year was going to be the new coach for powerlifting and told me that I needed to come to a practice and try it out. This was just the push I needed to get myself out of my comfort zone to check it out. I went to the early morning practice and instantly fell in love with lifting. I might have not been the best at the beginning, but I was constantly wanting to get better and push myself. Someone that I look up to is Claire Thomas. She is a fitness trainer and a 1st Phorm Elite Athlete. One thing that she does that I admire is her positive attitude and willingness to help others achieve their goals. Following her on social media has helped me with my fitness journey and finding who I want to be!
Tell me more about powerlifting and all that you do to practice and at competitions! Powerlifting is a sport that focuses on the strength of an athlete. We get three attempts at each lift (squat, bench press, deadlift) to max out our weight. It takes just as much physical strength as it does mental. At my school, we practiced three times a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning at 6:30! We focused on different muscle groups each practice. I would also workout on my own to get stronger and build my endurance. On meet days, we woke up VERY early! We typically met at the school before 5:30 a.m. to get all of our wraps, squat suits and bench shirts, then ride the bus to our meet destination. Once we got to the high school we were competing at, we would weigh in! Afterwards, we get dressed to warm up and before you know it, it’s time to lift! First up is squat! You lift three times and with each lift you’ll increase the weight on the bar. The same thing for bench press and deadlift. My favorite thing to compete in is deadlift! It is the least stressful for me because it’s the last lift of the day and it is what I’m the best at doing! When we finish lifting, we wait for awards and head back home! Meet days can be hectic, but I always have a blast! It’s the best way to bond with your coaches and teammates.
What was going through your head when you found out about your injury and knew how long the recovery process would be? Initially I was in pure shock! When it happened, I could not believe it at first. I thought I had just dislocated my elbow, so I was ready to pop it back in and finish lifting. I had a state title on the line, so I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. Until all I could feel in my left arm was pain. We saw the athletic trainer at the powerlifting meet, who told my mom that we needed to get to the hospital now!! Everything seemed like a blur for me, I had never experienced pain like this before. After a few hectic hours consisting of x-rays, medicine, IVs, bloodwork, many nurses coming in and out, it finally hit me when one doctor came in and took one look at my arm and told me that “this is an athletic career ending injury”. I just started bawling. I am an eighteen year old with big plans to cheer in college and be part of the NCA staff, I was supposed to lift at regionals and move onto state... my world was collapsing all around me. God really had His own plans for me though. I knew that I needed to trust in Him and His greater plan. He led us to my amazing doctor, Field Scovell III at the Carrell Clinic, who reassured me that I will be able to lift and cheer again, it was just going to take time. I had three months of recovery for my arm to properly heal.
How did you push through not being able to compete for 3 months? Three months seems like forever when you’re so used to training and working out everyday. I had no clue how I was going to live this new temporary lifestyle for the next twelve weeks. Around the same time I had my accident, the numbers of the coronavirus began to rise. This caused us to go into quarantine and for everyone’s spring break to be extended, until school was cancelled for the rest of the year. As unfortunate as it is that I had to go through the things I did, I was able to grow deeper in my relationship with God. These three months of healing allowed me to get stronger in my arm and in my faith. Many things were being cancelled due to COVID 19, including state for powerlifting. I felt terrible for all of the girls that worked so hard to make it there, but it was a way that God showed me that all of these events in our lives are really not that important in the end. What is important is that we take our hardships and use it to further the kingdom of God!
Have you won any awards from powerlifting? Do you hope to still compete in the future even throughout college? Through powerlifting, I have been able to receive medals for every meet I finished in fifth place or better! This season I was sitting in fifth place for my weight class in my region. I worked really hard to make it to regionals with hopes to advance to state! I am not planning on competing in college, but I will be cheering at my university this fall. I could see myself lifting in the future for contest purposes, but as of right now I am just doing it for fun and to keep my physique.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? The best advice I could give anyone would be to always look on the brighter side of things! Find joy in your life and radiate positivity. You never know what someone might be going through and with everybody that you encounter, you have the opportunity to be the light and share a smile with them.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? In the next five years, I could see myself graduated from college with my B.S. in psychology and working on my masters degree at Dallas Baptist University!
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? I am a cheerleader! I will be cheering in college, so something that I love to do is tumble and jump. I am always working hard to improve my skills.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? Something about myself that I find inspiring is my testimony. I have gone through many things in my life that have left me broken, but I have used all of the hardships I’ve gone through to make me stronger and happier. God has used me to be a light to others and radiate His great love. I am a more joyful person now than I ever have been because of what I’ve gone through.
Anything else you’d like to tell us? Accomplishments/Honors/etc.: SENIOR YEAR….
Top 5 Percent, 5.02 GPA, # 17 of 366
NCA Staff Applicant
Leaders of Tomorrow Award
Phi Theta Kappa
TASC Scholarship Recipient
Most Dedicated for FHS Varsity Cheer
Top 5 in Region 3 Division 1 for FHS Powerlifting
Varsity Cheerleading - Co-Captain
Women’s Varsity Powerlifting
Student Council - Student Council Executive President
Senior Class President
Principal’s Advisory Board
Best Buddies Member
National Honor Society Vice President
Mary will be featured in issue 36 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!