By Alexa Low
Since graduating from Quincy University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, Jonathan Graff has become the owner of Total Athlete Performance (TAP).
Graff is currently working with QU men and women’s volleyball along with women’s basketball and the Track & Field team.
“Whether I’m coaching or training I want to help people stay motivated through everything that they do. To help people feel like they have a sense of belonging. To help them take that extra step every single day and let them know that there are more people behind them than they think,” Graff said.
TAP is owned and operated by Graff and his employees. He employs many students who get hands on training with TAP athletes.
He looks for students who share his passion to train. Graff reaches out to many exercise science students, but loves when they reach out to him first.
Graff started working with Advanced Physical Therapy while working towards his bachelor’s degree.
This opportunity lead him to training TAP athletes located behind Advanced Physical Therapy. They were well known in the community and assisted Graff in starting his career.
After primarily training individuals, Graff decided he wanted to expand and work out with teams as a whole. He reached out to QU and Quincy Notre Dame (QND) to see if any coaches were interested in his training.
“We have definitely gotten a lot better. He really pushes us and he knows what to do to make us better. I can already see a difference in what I do every day,” Sarah Brown, QU women’s volleyball player, said.
Graff especially loves working with college teams because there is a different atmosphere and it is a different experience for him.
He also serves as the strength and conditioning coach at Quincy Notre Dame High School, coaches the junior high girls basketball team at QND, is an assistant coach for QND women’s basketball, and a developmental coach for an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team that has girls from fifth to eighth grade.
Graff grew up around the Quincy area and had a family member working at QU which led to his college decision.
He started as a physical education major with plans to be a teacher.
His ultimate goal was to coach and at the time, Graff thought physical education was the only way to get there.
By his sophomore year, Graff began working out and switched his major to exercise science.
“I love working out and I love coaching so it just seemed like a better option,” Graff said.
Graff hates the stigma that QU is a small school that does not have as many opportunities.
“My entire life, even though I’m from the area, has revolved around QU. The people I’ve met, the connections I’ve made, QU really has made me grow as a person and helped me jump start my career,” Graff said.
From an individual standpoint, Graff has connected himself with the Quincy community through the school system and the individual classes/workout sessions he hosts.
“I love helping athletes reach their goals because I was not able to do that. I want to give back as much as I can,” Graff said.
Graff loved basketball from an early age as he grew up playing it in his backyard.
He realized he was not very tall and never turned his passion into an organized sport.
When Graff started working out and learning how to exercise, he realized his height didn’t matter when he could jump higher and work harder than all other competitors.
That is what he wants his TAP athletes to understand and why he wants to help them. It may have been too late for his basketball career, but it isn’t for all the young athletes he is helping.
Graff works hard as he holds morning class at 5 a.m. and works one-on-one with athletes. With basketball being his favorite sport, he often helps his athletes with ball skills and shooting.
“I love doing one on ones just because it helps me give that athlete my full attention. I’m able to reach out to them more,” Graff said.
Some days he hardly has a break when working with QND football in the morning then straight to QU while making it back to TAP in time for his clients. Once his day is over at TAP, he often has a basketball practice or men’s volleyball lift to attend.
However, Graff never complains and he loves what he does.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help someone out,” Graff said.
Graff believes confidence in this generation has gone down and he wants to help bring that back along with leadership.
While many athletes come to Graff to get stronger, some have other intentions in mind.
Recently, a mother came to Graff asking him to not only train her son on his physical abilities but to also help him become a leader.
This mother left Graff feeling accomplished. He realized that is he more than just a trainer, he helps athletes to become well-rounded individuals.
As far as Graff’s future plans, he wishes to reach as many people as he can. He loves the Quincy area and will continue to be such a large part of the community.