Setting Up for Success
Gracey Jarecke, a senior from Denver, Colorado, hones her athletic skills as a defensive specialist for the Kent State University women’s volleyball team. When she’s not making diving plays and serving aces, she focuses her time as a fashion design major with a minor in arts entrepreneurship, a member of Delta Gamma, and as a student of the Honors College.
Gracey was drawn to Kent State for its incomparable fashion design program. The School of Fashion is consistently ranked as one of the top fashion schools in the world, which Gracey says has provided her with unique experiences and challenges that have pushed her out of her comfort zone. Along with playing volleyball at the Division I level, Gracey’s studies have pushed her to do things she never thought she could. Gracey explained that she was a walk-on for the Kent State women’s volleyball team the summer before her first semester. Playing volleyball in college was never a guarantee, but Gracey says she is so happy she tried out and became a part of the program.
"Playing a college sport has been a very rewarding experience,” said Gracey. Though it takes a lot of effort to balance classes and volleyball, Gracey stated that she has learned a lot from being a student-athlete, including time management. Volleyball is a fall sport, so the beginning of the academic year is much busier than the spring. In season, the team practices for 20 hours each week - usually four hours per day. Game days are a bit more rigorous. Gracey explained that she and her teammates must be at the gym between four and six hours before each match starts. During this time they meet for practice, film, treatment, and the pregame meal.
The Kent State women’s volleyball team goes beyond just playing volleyball. There is a big emphasis on becoming involved with the community and volunteering. “Our coaches and athletic department expect us to be good students and keep a high GPA, and they encourage us to be involved in the community,” Gracey stated. “I think that is cool because it challenges us to be more than just an athlete.” According to Gracey, outside of practices and matches, the team also participates in volunteer events, attends weekly study hours, and meets with their coaches and athletics department. Though adjusting to a busier schedule during her freshman year was difficult, Gracey praised her coaches who not only help her and her teammates navigate their time as student-athletes but also push them to be better.
Unlike some of her teammates, Gracey also navigates a more rigorous course load as a member of the Honors College. This means taking more difficult classes and maintaining a higher GPA requirement. “The Honors College has been so helpful. Having an advisor that knows me and my goals and wants to help me succeed in different areas of college life has been amazing,” Gracey explained. She also appreciates the small class sizes the Honors College offers within a big campus.
Due to the demands of playing a college sport, student-athletes must make adjustments to their lifestyles. With that come new habits and lessons learned. “I really do believe that [playing college volleyball] has shaped me so much into who I have become,” Gracey affirmed. She explained that she has learned how to be flexible, a good teammate, and confident in overcoming challenges. Gracey is also grateful for the teammates she has been around for the last four years: “All of us are very different but everyone is supportive of one another and challenges each other to be our best on and off the court.”
Gracey plans on graduating from Kent State in the spring or summer of 2023. She wants to pursue a career in art direction or designing athletic wear in which she can use her athletics background. Gracey is thankful for her experience playing for the Kent State women’s volleyball team while being an Honors College student.
To follow Gracey and the Kent State women’s volleyball team, please visit the Kent State University Women’s Volleyball website.
For more information about the Kent State University Honors College, please visit the Honors College website.
PHOTO CAPTION 1: Kent State volleyball player and Honors College student Gracey Jarecke competes during a volleyball match.
PHOTO CAPTION 2: Kent State volleyball player and Honors College student Gracey Jarecke poses for a photo in a pink jersey while holding a volleyball.
Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-672-2312