wenrich

Grace Wenrich leaves the Oconee County High School volleyball program as one of its best-ever players.

As she finally signed to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on Nov. 10, head coach Mark Oglesby listed off Wenrich’s accomplishments that she achieved during her time at Oconee County.

This season, Wenrich broke a program record with over 3,000 career assists, along with over 1,000 assists for the season.

She was recognized by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as an honorable mention All-American. Additionally, Wenrich was a Region 3 all-area team member and an AVCA Best and Brightest recipient.

The setter led her Warrior team to its first semifinals appearance since 2016. In doing so, Wenrich was named the GVCA Class AAA Player of the Year as well as the Region 8-AAA Player of the Year.

“That doesn't weigh next to her as a person,” Oglesby said. “She's just a great person, puts so much energy onto the floor to push her team, to will her team to victory.”

At JMU, Wenrich intends on studying sport management to become a coach one day. The academic rigor at James Madison was one of Wenrich’s most important factors in deciding to sign there.

“When she finally decided, what stood out to me was that she said, ‘This is where I would want to go to school even if I didn't play volleyball,’” said Wenrich’s mother, Jessica. “To finally get through COVID, get through everything that's gone on, to be able to sign and make that commitment is just the accomplishment of a lifelong dream.”

Still, the volleyball program was one-of-a-kind for signee.

“I really think it's the coaching. I have such a special bond with each three of the coaches,” Wenrich said. “And honestly, it's the prettiest campus you'll ever walk on, too. It's gonna be a little cold, but I'm excited because the culture they have there is just a winning program. All the girls love each other.”

Wenrich took after her older sister when she decided to play the sport in fifth grade.

It quickly became her dream to play at a high level.

“I've always had the competitive aspect,” Wenrich said. “It's like, ‘OK, I gotta get to the next level, whatever I have to do to make myself better.’ And now, it's just a dream come true that it's all said and done.”

During Oconee County’s state playoff run this past season, Wenrich and Oglesby said the friendships contributed to the team’s success.

Wenrich was surrounded by those same teammates two weeks ago as she signed to join the JMU program.

“It's amazing. These are my family. Even my friends, they're my family,” Wenrich said. “They supported me through this whole ordeal, through COVID and school, so it's amazing.”

Wenrich helped the Warriors finish the 2021 season with a program-best 42-7 record, including a win against Athens Academy, which ranks as one of Wenrich’s favorite memories from her high school career. As she signed her paper to become a Duke, though, her thoughts were on her future, not her past.

“At first I was like, ‘All right make this look good,’” Wenrich said, recalling her thoughts as she inked her documents. “But then I was like, ‘OK, wow, this is surreal. It's over.’ I'm ready.”

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