Newberry's Grace Oelrich had a phenomenal volleyball career at Newberry High School.
Oelrich helped lead the Panthers’ volleyball team to four district titles, including two in Class 5A, and two state championship game appearances.
The senior outside hitter led the Class 1A state runner-up Panthers (23-4) in kills (265), aces (68) and blocks (99). She ended her career as the all-time leader in blocks with 287.
“Grace really had a dominant senior season,” said Newberry volleyball coach Hank Rone. “She always strived to get better every year and she did. She is a great leader on and off the court. She was the driving force of back to back state championships appearances.”
After graduating in the top 10 of her senior class, Oelrich will attend Rollins College in Winter Park as a scholarship crew member. Oelrich will receive a $53,000 scholarship for rowing.
“I think Rollins will train her into one of the best rowers to come out of their school, because Grace will listen and perfect the sport she is in now,” Rone said. “Her legacy of her work ethic and positive attitude will always be passed down to the underclassmen.”
Oelrich was also runner-up for the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 1A Player of the Year this past season.
Rone said, like all great seniors, Grace “has passed down what it takes to be a champion.”
“As the great Vince Lombardi said, ‘In order to become a champion you must have an intense burning desire,’ and that is what Grace and her senior class left for the next generation of players,” Rone said.
This is the first in a series of stories recognizing some of the top senior student athletes in North Central Florida.