Grace McKenzie is the kind of committed, inspiring athlete and teammate that makes you want to go the extra mile. You can be sure that if your coach tells you to run one more sprint, Grace will be first to the line. A relentless defender, Grace could chase anyone down and excelled at stepping up in key moments of the game. Grace played with a look of determination that would make any forward give up the ball, but if a teammate needed support, her ever-ready smile would flash in an instant. Read on to learn about what Grace is up to these days.
EFC: Tell us about what you are currently doing?
GM: I am a sophomore at the University of Washington, pursuing a business degree at the Foster School of Business. Go Dawgs!
EFC: When did you join Eastside and what team were you on?
GM: After hopping around club teams, I joined EFC when I was 13 and played until I was 18. I started on the G03 White team with Emily Cole for about half a season, then was pulled up to the Red team with Xhino and following Mark Kovats! Once Eastside joined ECNL, I played the rest of my years in that league.
EFC: What were some team and personal accomplishments during your time at EFC?
GM: Throughout my four years at Cedarcrest High School, I was a captain in both my junior (first junior captain in history) and senior years. I was a 3x WESCO First Team Defender and a 3x Academic Champion, with a 4.0 unweighted GPA.
The biggest individual accomplishment I received was ECNL 1st Team Defender of the Year at 18, as a center defender, playing for Mark Kovats.
On the red team, we were 3x consecutive State Champions for our RCL League. We played for consecutive years at the regional tournament.
EFC: Tell us something cool you have done or experienced during your collegiate years thus far.
GM: At UW, I played on the Women’s Club Team for my freshmen year and have been a part of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. I am now serving as the Chapter President, leading 100+ girls and dealing with all external affairs.
How did EFC prepare you for college and life beyond?
GM: I truly attest to experiencing EFC’s core values during the time I played for EFC. Not only was I surrounded by strong and empowering women, but I was also constantly pushed by my coaches to be a better individual on and off the field. My commitment, work ethic, and leadership skills all sparked from the competitive environment EFC instills.
EFC cultivates a community-oriented vision that I continue to look for in school, in social aspects, and in the workplace. Incorporating the importance of a team mentality has brought me humility and passion for serving others!
EFC: Did you learn anything impactful about balance and rest over the course of your athletic career?
During my time at EFC, I was also playing high school soccer, basketball, and track. With many trials of physical and mental stress, I was quick to learn the importance of balance and rest. I was lucky enough to have very understanding coaches at EFC who supported my love for other sports. Their consistent reinforcement outside of soccer guided me in making those tough decisions to rest when I found I was super overworked.
EFC: What advice would you give to our current Eastside players?
GM: Unfortunately, my time at Eastside aligned with a lot of unexpected adversity in my personal life. However, every single time I stepped foot on the field, I was immediately uplifted by my team and coaches. The best advice I could give is to play with gratitude. It is an incredible opportunity to be part of such a passionate community and I wish I took the time to acknowledge the sacrifices my family made, the places I have been able to travel, the lifelong friendships I have forged, and the amazing experience it is to play soccer! Living in the moment is so true! Time really flies by.
It's inspiring to hear how Grace is transforming lessons learned on the field into success in the classroom and beyond. In short, she made Eastside better, and we are proud to call her a Champion in Life. As Grace eloquently said “I am honored to be an alumna of Eastside and beyond proud of the loyalty of each player, coach, and family member dedicates to this club. We truly are a family.”