If any fan knew much about senior guard Grace Hales, they’d know her to be one of the most competitive and prolific shooters in the women’s basketball program. But to her teammates, coaches, family and friends, they know her to be so much more; a hardworking student, a kind friend, and an overall positive person.
Upon reflecting on her career, Hales has found the memories she’s made playing with her teammates in her graduating class as a sacred bond. Hales described her career with senior Maya Meredith, Addison Stoller, Marlee Profitt and Caitlin Morrison as nothing short of special.
“I have had a great experience at Valpo. The girls that I came in with from day one, we have been so close and they are my best friends. We are one of the only classes that have stuck together the whole four years without someone graduating. I think it is awesome we were able to stick together,” Hales said.
A high school graduate out of Westview, Hales began her Valpo career back in 2016. Over the years, she has faced change in the style of play and the play system being implemented. Through her level of comfort, she has learned to be more confident with every role that she is being given. She went from coming off the bench to make a difference to becoming a super star starter in the lineup.
“I started to notice the first third of the season [the game] seemed to slow down for her, and she seemed to understand things, and that is when we started to insert her into the starting lineup,” said Head Coach Mary Evans. “But even rewatching games from last season during the summer, there is a big difference between Grace Hales in the first five games and Grace Hales in the last five games.”
Her graduating class had a unique situation many athletes never got the chance to experience: her class got to compete against the teams in the Horizon League and then work. Evans has been proud of the foundation, with Hales help leading this new change.
“I think they were very open to that change and bought in really quickly. I think they have really jump started what we are hoping to be a really big change in what Valpo Women’s Basketball is thought of moving forward,” Evans said.
This season, Hales was honored at the home game against Indiana State for surpassing the 1,000 points milestone. Going into senior night, she ranks 14th in the program with 1078 career points, only three points shy from 13th. She is also ranked eighth in the program with 119 career games played.
Off the court, Hales has had the reputation of being an engaged student. This past May, Hales graduated with a bachelor’s in communications, and is looking to get her master’s in Sports Media. As a student, she has taken every advantage she has been given and driven herself to work hard at it.
“She has taken complete advantage of Valpo’s education. She has done internships with the Sports Information department, she has worked with Paul [Oren], she has worked with an outside marketing firm during the summer for an internship. She is the true definition of a student athlete,” Evans said.
Amongst her peers, her teammates recognize her as a positive, illuminating, and respectable friend.
“She is bright. She is also funny, but like a quirky kind of funny. She is always positive, she is one of the most positive people I have ever met. It is always nice to have her around,” said senior guard Maya Meredith.