Nov. 21, 2005
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - As the University of Maryland celebrates its 150th anniversary, what better time is there for faculty, students, and alumni to discuss the "Top Terps?" Everything from the University's best moments to Maryland traditions have been topics of discussion this year.
Included on this list of discussions would have to be the "Lifelong Terp." When we think of a lifelong Terp, we undoubtedly think of Gary Williams or the Fridge, but another name that should come to mind is Marchelle Payne.
Marchelle Payne, a four-time all-American and school record-holder in the triple jump, has been a staple in College Park since her arrival from Richmond, Va., 15 years ago. Coming out of high school, Payne was recruited by schools all over the nation, but selected Maryland.
"I didn't want to be too far from home, far enough that my mom couldn't just drop in, but close enough that if there was an emergency at home I would be able to get home quickly enough," Payne said recently.
And that decision is one for which the Maryland track and field team and the entire Terrapin community should be very grateful.
In her freshman year as a Terp, Payne exceeded expectations to receive All-America honors in the triple jump, something that would become commonplace for her in the next three years. Payne went on to be an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in each of the next three years, an All-American in 1992 and 1993, ACC champion in the triple jump in 1992 and 1993, and finally, she set the school record for the triple jump with a mark of 42 feet, 11.75 inches.
Upon her graduation from the University with a family studies degree, Payne was not ready to pack up and leave what had been her home for the past four years. She decided to stay in College Park and begin work on a master's degree in family studies.
"As I finished up my undergrad program, I came into contact with Dr. Noel Myricks," she said. "He challenged me on things, and I really learned a lot from him. So I decided to stay here, keep training, and stay on for my master's."
A few years later, when it was again graduation time for Payne, Dr. Myricks again gave her some advice, saying that she should pursue a Ph.D. in education, something Payne has now been working on for the past seven years.
"I have been very fortunate to meet all the right people at all the right times, professionally, athletically, and even personally in terms of support," and this is something she credits to the University of Maryland system, and what she strives to do for her students as a student advocate, assistant to the dean, and director of outreach programs in the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism.
"There are people that are always trying to help you and always looking out for you. I think we start to establish connections at our school for our students, and that's really important," she said.
In her 15 years as a Terrapin, Payne has experienced her ups and downs, but she understands that these ups and downs are what make the University of Maryland the institution it is.
"We may not be perfect, but this is who we are. When you come to Maryland, come when you don't think we're expecting you. You can get a real sense of what we're all about. Everyone loves it here."
And when you do come to Maryland, look for Marchelle Payne. Most likely, she'll be here, because, as she says, "I am a Terp for life. Without a shadow of a doubt, I truly am a Terp for life."
By Mariel Brady, Maryland Athletics Media Relations