If there is a ball to be hit, thrown or caught during a sports season at Sterling High School, chances are Gretchen Gould or Grace Gould will be there to do it.
Gretchen, a senior, and Grace, a junior, are each three-sport (volleyball, basketball and softball) athletes for the Golden Warriors, so they’re always on the go for a practice or a game, a team dinner or meeting, or perhaps a film session.
On Friday, the Goulds will be part of the Sterling volleyball team that is making its first state tournament appearance in program history. The Golden Warriors will meet Joliet Catholic in a Class 3A semifinal game in Redbird Arena in Normal.
“We are really excited,
the whole team is, because we’ve been working so hard for this,” Gretchen said. “It’s really exciting because we’ve wanted this for softball, basketball – everything – and now we’re finally getting to go, so that’s great.”
The Borum sisters (Josi, Brook and Bree) and Lexi Rodriguez are each Division I volleyball prospects – Josi has already committed to Chicago State, Rodriguez to Nebraska – but the Goulds are invaluable role players for a stacked Sterling lineup.
“A good team is going to have 1,100, maybe 1,200 kills in a season,” Sterling coach Dale Dykeman said, “and there’s only so many sets to go around. Gretchen is going to get five or six swings a match, and she’ll put down two or three kills. Grace might get six or seven swings. Their contribution is incredibly important to us.
“Teams are going to key on the Borums, but you can’t go there every time. Gretchen and Grace do their jobs, and they do them well.”
Gretchen, a 5-foot-9 middle blocker, is fourth on the team with 101 kills, and she also has 39 blocks and 33 digs. She is more than content with her role.
“My main job is to block in the middle, because we’ve got so many good hitters,” she said. “When they come to me, I love it. I’m always ready when my number is called.”
It’s the same mentality for Grace, a 5-9 outside hitter who has 147 digs and 95 kills.
“On this team, you’re only to get so many chances, and that’s OK,” she said. “It’s all about doing your job and winning games. That’s all that matters.”
Softball is the Goulds’ top sport, as they comprise the left side of the Golden Warriors’ infield. Gretchen, a third baseman, led the area with eight home runs this past spring. She also drove in 31 runs, scored 30, and had a .699 slugging percentage.
Just to her left is Grace, a slick-fielding shortstop. She also knocked in 33 runs.
They also were part of a national championshiop ASA team this past summer.
On the basketball court, Gretchen does a lot of the dirty work for Sterling as an undersized post. She averaged 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds last season.
Grace is a guard and averages 7.8 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals.
The objective for this weekend is clear – hang a gold banner in Musgrove Fieldhouse that signifies a state championship team. By about 7 p.m. Saturday, they’ll know if that goal has been achieved.
There will be little time to celebrate, however.
Sterling’s girls basketball team opens its season Monday night at Dixon, and both Goulds plan on playing in that game.
“I’ll be in the [Musgrove] Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon, shooting baskets,” Gretchen said. “A lot of our basketball team is still playing volleyball, but the girls that have been practicing basketball have been working hard. Obviously we won’t be in basketball shape yet, but we’ll get there.”
Gretchen: 101 kills, 39 blocks, 33 digs
Grace: 147 digs, 95 kills, 15 blocks, 15 assists