By Glen Charlton
Jillian Maloney, a track and field athlete for Maryland, does it all. And she excels at everything she does.
Maloney dominates in academics, is an achieved athlete in multiple sports and became a nationally-ranked Monopoly player.
Who knew such a title actually exists?
Maloney claimed her ranking in middle school. It all began with a school project, but Maloney said it came to be for another reason.
“In middle school, I just was not very cool,” Maloney said.
Her assignment was to find two books and create a project based on the readings. Maloney found “Everything I Learned in Business, I Learned from Monopoly” and “The Monopoly Companion.” While completing her project, she learned about the existence of Monopoly tournaments.
The books Maloney chose included lots of information about the strategies behind Monopoly. She always played the game with her dad and lost quite frequently, but she began to practice what she absorbed from those two books.
“I thought it was so cool,” Maloney said.
She started playing Monopoly online and made her dad drive her to tournaments.
She hasn’t played Monopoly in years, though.
“It’s mostly because no one wants to play with me,” Maloney said, laughing. “I get kind of aggressive and ruthless.”
Maloney is a competitor, and it doesn’t show only between Boardwalk and Park Place.
She is a ranked javelin thrower for Maryland. But before track and field, it was soccer.
“[Soccer] was my life. It was a huge part of my identity,” she explained.
At just 15 years old, Maloney served as a goalie for the Ireland College All-Stars. She was also a member of the 2010 World Cup U17 team and played against four English Premier League professional teams.
During her second year playing soccer at the University of Georgia, Maloney began to have sensations of pins and needles. Every time she exercised, her neck felt hot. The symptoms she experienced worried her and doctors because they were similar to those of lupus and multiple sclerosis.
It took four months, but doctors diagnosed her with congenital cervical spinal stenosis. She was born with the condition. It results from having a narrow spinal canal.
Doctors told Maloney she would never play soccer again.
“I was absolutely crushed,” Maloney remembered.
Maloney considers herself to be an intense planner. She has always had a blueprint for her life, mapping out the things she would accomplish and when.
Soccer was a big part of that plan, and when she had to scratch it out, her dad helped her revise it.
He recommended she play softball at first, but Maloney wasn’t up for it. Then, he mentioned track and field. Maloney participated in the NFL’s Punt, Pass, and Kick program in 2010 and 2011. Maloney and her dad figured that because she had good throwing abilities (she placed in the top four out of 100,000 participants), she should take up a throwing event in track and field.
Her dad’s friend and his wife threw the javelin for the same team when they were in college. They had some javelins stored in their home garage, so Maloney went to their house and began practicing.
Maloney began to research different collegiate teams while applying for graduate school. She created an Excel spreadsheet. It documented the different distances between other athletes at top-performing schools, and she used it to get an idea of what she would have to throw to make a team as a graduate student.
She also kept in consistent contact with numerous coaches, attempting to sell herself.
“I would send emails saying, ‘Even if I’m not that good, I have a good GPA. I’ll raise the team GPA’. I was so desperate,” Maloney said.
She finally got a response from the coaches at Maryland.
Heading into graduate school, Maloney walked on for Maryland’s track and field team on an academic scholarship.
She is currently ranked fourth in Terps’ track and field history after throwing her personal-best 130’11’’ at the Big Ten Championships earlier this year.
With only one semester to go before graduating, Maloney now has her mind on the future. This time, sports are not part of the plan. She has already begun applying to government jobs in the hopes of becoming a U.S. foreign policy advisor.