When she is not running on the track and competing in field events for Wright State, Gabrielle Markley propels wheels forward with her strong upper body muscles on the student union gym floor.
When Wright State’s outdoor track and season commences next spring, Markley will be throwing, jumping, hurdling and running in the seven-event heptathlon for the first time.
Markley has experiences with track and field that date back to when she was only 4. This is when she would accompany her mother Barbara to Donnell Stadium in Findlay for her track workouts.
“While she did her workouts I would jump around on the pull vault pit or jump into the long jump sand. Growing up I was always around the track atmosphere,” Markley said.
Markley was a multi-dimensional athlete at Beavercreek High School as a forward on the basketball team and a part of the track and field team as a senior.
Though she did not envision being a collegiate track and field athlete after only competing for one season in high school, Markley decided she would try to walk on to Wright State’s team when former head coach Fabien Corbillon was at the helm.
“I had emailed Coach Fabe over the summer before freshman year and asked him if I could walk on,” Markley said. “He said he would love to have me. That solidified my decision.”
Now a junior, Markley has already competed in several events for the Raiders such as relays, the javelin and the high jump to name a few. She is also a student employee for Wright State’s adapted recreation program. This includes weekly wheelchair intramurals in the student union gym, where students with or without disabilities are welcome to participate.
The adapted recreation program can help break a connotation of limitation that is associated with disability, according to Markley.
“The students just amaze me with what they can do. A lot of times people think of a disability as a limitation,” Markley said. “They might do things differently. They might not be quick on their feet or have great reflexes, but as long as you adapt the game they are able to do what another athlete can do in a different way.”
Even for a collegiate athlete like Markley initially maneuvering the recreation wheelchairs offered a challenge.
“At the beginning it’s tough steering your chair and learning to pick up speed or how to stop yourself,” Markley said. “A lot of times at the beginning I would pick up my speed, but it hurt to stop myself. I would just run into the wall with my foot.”
Markley also finds that the intramurals can leave her sore afterwards and act as an endurance workout for track and field.
Endurance and quickness is especially important for the sharks and minnows game. This is a game where a person in the center of the court tries to tag the rest of the participants that are pushing their chairs from one end to another. This is repeated until all those who were previously tagged are able to tag whoever else is remaining.
Markley will officially start the indoor track season in February and the outdoor season in March. Her cross training in wheelchair sports this year should be an edge Markley will have over the rest of the competition.