Gracee Stewart, a member of the Miami Trace High School Class of 2021, prior to graduation signed a letter of intent to attend Centre College, which is located in Danville, Kentucky, where she will continue her education and her basketball career. Danville is located less than an hours drive from Lexington.
“I had coaches reach out to me before the season,” Stewart said. “I kind of stayed in contact with them. I went down for a visit one time in the fall and I really liked it.
“I was kind of on the fence as to what I wanted to do,” Stewart said. “I made a decision when I went back down that was where I wanted to play basketball. I really liked the teammates.
“There was one other (school) I had been talking to my sophomore year,” Stewart said. “But, I felt that Centre College was a better fit for me.
“I’m excited, because I get to play four more years of basketball,” Stewart said. “A lot of people know I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) my junior year, so, I only had three years and this year, with COVID, it was kind of different. I’m looking forward to furthering my basketball career; kind of starting over. It’s going to be different and I’m excited for the new atmosphere and to experience college and college basketball.
“I think my biggest concern is just kind of like starting over,” Stewart said. “I’m going to meet new people and learn things on my own. At home, my family has always been there to support me. They’re still going to support me, but I’m kind of on my own now. I think that’s my biggest concern, just finding my way at first.
“I’m going to major in pre-vet (veterinarian) and probably minor in business,” Stewart said.
In high school, Stewart said her favorite subject was Ag.
“They’re very involved in different things,” Stewart said. “I got to do many activities throughout my four years.”
Stewart said her favorite teacher at Miami Trace is Chris Miller (math).
“I would obviously like to thank my family, my parents,” Stewart said. “My parents have been my biggest supporters through everything.
“My teammates, I wouldn’t be here without them,” Stewart said. “They have been a huge support; Ben Ackley and Kayla Dettwiller, for building me up the past four years.
“I’d like to thank all of my friends,” Stewart said.
“I’m very excited that she’s getting the opportunity to continue doing what she loves to do, which is playing college basketball,” former Miami Trace High School girls basketball coach Ben Ackley said. “I know this has been a goal of hers since she was a little girl. She’s worked very hard and she’s overcome a lot in the last two or three years with injuries and a couple of setbacks.
“She’s shown a lot of will and perseverance to get where she’s at,” Ackley said. “She’s earned all of this. Gracee came a long way. She grew up a lot; she matured a lot in the four years she was here, both physically and mentally.
“She started for us as a sophomore and gave us great minutes on a team that was very competitive and got better throughout the year,” Ackley said. “Then she tore her ACL when we were expecting big things from her as a junior. She missed that whole year.
“That was a major setback for Gracee, but I thought it forced her to grow up a lot,” Ackley said. “She was forced to take on more of a leadership role. She couldn’t do what she wanted on the court, so, her role was transformed to being a leader off the court and an assistant coach. She did a great job with the young players, supporting and helping them.
“It helped her grow as a person and as a leader and it made her a lot better as a senior coming in, to lead this year,” Ackley said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of the kid she is. Her best game here was toward the end of the year when we beat (McClain) the second time at home. Gracee is probably the best three-point shooter I’ve coached. (McClain) knew that and she did something she couldn’t have done as a sophomore. She scored 12 points that night and didn’t make a three.
“We isolated her and put her in some situations where we thought she could beat her defender off the dribble and she came through and did something that no one thought she was capable of doing and that speaks volumes of the commitment she made to the game and her team and how she grew as a player over the course of her four years in the program,” Ackley said.
“She’s a great kid and a great student and she’ll do big things in college and the rest of her life,” Ackley said. “I was just blessed to coach her.”