Q&A with Maureen Laffan
Sophomore Maureen Laffan won the shot put at the ACC Championships over the weekend to join Kelly Bodiford (1991) as the only Cavaliers to capture a conference title indoors in the event. Laffan’s throw was a personal-best mark of 52’ 4.75” and is just shy of former Cavalier Billie-Jo Grant’s school record of 53’ 0”.
Laffan has hit the NCAA provisional qualifying standard in the shot put this indoor season and is eligible to earn an at large bid to the national championships next weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.
Laffan and some teammates will return to Virginia Tech this weekend in an attempt to better their marks and earn a bid to the NCAA Championships. Other Cavaliers will head to South Bend, Ind., to compete in the Notre Dame Last Chance meet. Events at both sites are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Question: You won the shot put over the weekend to claim your first ACC Championship. What does that accomplishment mean to you?
Laffan: To be able to say that I am an ACC Champion is just amazing. It’s great to see that my hard work is paying off and being noticed. The competition was intense and there were a lot of women there that did an amazing job. This is just another step towards being a better athlete.
Question: You led the ACC in the event heading into the meet. How were you feeling heading into Saturday’s competition?
Laffan: I walked into the meet telling myself I was going to win. That was my goal. The day of competition I was feeling really good. I did my same routine for warm ups like I usually do, listened to some heavy metal and visualized how everything in my technique was supposed to look. Though I told myself I wanted to win, I tried not to make a big deal out of going into the competition seeded as first. I just went in there and tried my hardest to do well.
Question: What about once competition got started? You only won by .25 of an inch, talk about how the actual competition played out.
Laffan: Once throwing started, I actually started to get very nervous. I was shaking on my first throw and I had to mentally calm myself down for the next one. The competition had a fair amount of girls throwing in the same area, between 48 and 52 feet, so I knew it was going to be close throughout the whole thing. It was definitely nerve-wracking to be throwing against Lawanda [Henry, NC State], because she is a great thrower.
Question: How did you react when you found out you won?
Laffan: When I did realize I won, I was on my last throw. I tried to stay composed for the throw, but I was definitely ecstatic.
Question: Your winning throw was a personal-best and is now only about seven inches shy of Billie-Jo Grant’s school record. As you inch closer to her mark, is breaking her record among your personal goals for this season?
Laffan: I wouldn’t say that a goal of mine is to break the school record. My goals for now are getting to nationals and hitting 54 feet. However, it is pretty cool to know that I am close to Billie-Jo’s record. She is an amazing athlete and was a great teammate to learn from last year. Certainly knowing her and learning from her was a privilege last year and I definitely consider myself lucky to have had that experience.
Question: What has allowed you to improve so steadily in your throws this season?
Laffan: I think my attitude towards competition has changed drastically from last year. I am way more focused during competition. During practice, coach Lane wants us to try and simulate meets, so I think that has impacted my improvement. I’d also say that my technique is better and I am more comfortable than I was last year.
Question: As you get closer to getting ready to transition into the outdoor season, how will your training shift from preparing for ACCs and NCAAs to gearing up for a season that ultimately ends in June?
Laffan: Now that we are heading into the outdoor season, we are all going to focus on more than one event rather than just the shot put and just weight throw. I think in the beginning, the focus is going to be on technique and getting that down pat before ACCs, and trying to regionally qualify. One of my main focuses for outdoor will be to make NCAAs and possibly qualify for USAs again in the women’s shot put section.
Question: Will you compete in anything other than the shot put?
Laffan: I throw the hammer and discus outdoors, along with shot put.
Question: What are you most excited about for either the end of this indoor season or for the upcoming outdoor season?
Laffan: I am very excited to see if I am going to indoor NCAAs this season because that was one of my goals. For outdoor, I’m excited to compete in the hammer and discus and hopefully score points in outdoor ACCs.