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Bound for Brown: Grace Kirk Leads Hilltoppers On and Off the Court

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: March 29, 2020 11:18 PM

Heading into her senior year, a worldwide pandemic was far from Grace Kirk's mind. However, the Duluth Marshall girl's basketball standout became one of thousands of athletes to see their season end early due to the coronavirus. 

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While the news was disappointing, she knew that there's more to life than basketball.

"A lot of my coaches have always told me  basketball can get you far but academics can take you farther," said Grace Kirk, a senior at Duluth Marshall High School.

From a young age Kirk has pursued two passions, basketball and academics. She found success on both paths during her time at Duluth Marshall.

Last spring she announced her commitment to Brown University, with hopes to pursue literature and the civil rights movement. This year, as the only senior on the team, she helped the Hilltoppers to the program's first win in the Class AA state basketball tournament.

"My academics, along with basketball also got me to the Ivy League, where I'm at now," Kirk said. "If I didn't take care of my grades like I did, I wouldn't be going there."

Kirk put her all on the court during games, finishing the season second on the team in both points with 584 and rebounds with 152. Still, she managed to find that balance between sports and school, earning a 3.9 GPA.

"I was up late. I was working on bus ride back from away games, but it was just sacrifices. I know that if I have basketball I can't just let that be my only thing, I have to try at school too," Kirk added.

Peers and coaches have offered support and recognition of her dedication on and off the court.

"I planned an assembly, and I got Kim Young," Kirk said. "She was our keynote speaker for the Black History Month assembly. I spent a lot of time putting that together, making the itinerary for it. That was a really big success, everybody was coming up to me afterwards saying thank you."

When asked about Grace as a person Chibuzo Osuchukwu, the head coach of the Duluth Marshall girl's basketball team, had only good things to say. 

"She was our leader. She's funny. She pushed people, pushed me to be becoming a better coach, a better person. I love her to death and she's always going to be remembered I think through the whole Northland," said Osuchukwu.

The COVID-19 pandemic however impacted her final year in high school, cutting her hoops career short. It may effect her graduation in May too, but for now she's pushing for positivity.

"I could be much sadder, but I'm not because I knew that I left everything out there on the court that one time." Kirk was referencing Duluth Marshall's state quarterfinal upset victory over New London-Spicer. "I feel like I have nothing else to give and that's giving me a little bit of peace during this chaotic time."

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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