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Track and Field

Abbey Kapitan is still looking for her limit

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Last Friday, while many Irish students were planning for their last opportunity to have a fun weekend, one student was busy breaking records.

Notre Dame hosted its annual Blue & Gold Invitational last Friday night — the first meet of the indoor season. Loftus Sports Center was the location of the 20-event Invitational, and while the Irish took first in 16 events and finished in the top-five on 43 separate occasions, the event was highlighted by what took place in the women’s weight throw.

Junior Abbey Kapitan showed just how much work she has put in during the offseason by beating the Irish school record in the women’s weight throw. The previous school record was 19.6 meters. She threw for 19.91.

Raised in Munster, Indiana, Kapitan got her passion for sports from her father — who played football for Valparaiso University. Sports had always been a big part of Kapitan’s life. She used to play as a center for her high school basketball team. She tried out track because her basketball coach was also the track coach and had convinced her to try out throwing.

Pushed by her father to become the best athlete that she could be, Kapitan gave up basketball after her sophomore year of high school and focused solely on track.

“I just wanted to devote my time to track and see just how good I could be and see if I was good enough to compete at a Division I school,” Kapitan said.

She was officially named captain of her throwing team senior year. But considering that there were no upperclassmen throwers her sophomore year, she took on a captain-like role on the team and served in that capacity for the next three years. Having a good relationship with all the coaches, Kapitan relished the role of team captain. She loved being the liaison between her teammates and the coaches.

Kapitan, of course, cared more about the academics in her future college than the athletics, but she pushed to see just how far her athletics could take her. Her athletic high school success got her exactly what she wanted out of the recruitment process: a chance to compete for Notre Dame (on top of three other track and field letters and even a basketball offer), a Division I school.

Today, Kapitan serves as the “team mom” of the throwers because of her constant supply of sunscreen, bandages and snacks. Kapitan doesn’t expect to have the same leadership roles as she had in high school, but she emphasizes her commitment to being a team player.

“I try to be there for my teammates, always. If they feel like they can’t talk about something, I try to help them,” she said. “I’m always trying to help my teammates, that’s No. 1 for me.”

The “team mom” is currently studying neuroscience, as Kapitan is intrigued by the peculiar position that the brain has in dictating how we function, act and what are personalities are like. In addition to neuroscience being a middle ground between two of her favorite sciences: psychology and biology, Kapitan also enjoys her major because it opens up the possibility for her to learn how people think and what motivates them.

With all that said, what motivates this record-setter is a consistent desire to find her limit. Whether it be competing against her competitive training partner, fellow Irish thrower, sophomore Rachel Tanczos, at lifting weights or throwing a 20-pound ball almost 20 meters across the field, Kapitan wants to see just how good she can get.

“I’ve always been motivated to see what I could do. I’ve always been interested in how the fact that we’re always keep breaking records,” Kapitan said. “How does the standard just keep getting better and better? I’ve always been motivated by seeing what’s the very best I could do. How much better could I get? If I work out this much or go to practice this much, how much better could I get? What is the limit? I’m motivated by the fact that I haven’t found the limit yet.”

With an already-impressive start to the season, Kapitan’s expectations for the season have not changed.

“I think that right now, my only expectation is to build on what I’ve done, try to do the best that I can and just try to get better,” she said.

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