Playing Hardball: Gracie Frazier Proves Her Grit
A native of Moultrie, Georgia, Gracie Frazier described herself as always being “the athlete in the family.” However, while she loved playing sports with her friends, there was a stark difference: the other kids were dabbling in softball, basketball and any sport they could think of. Frazier, on the other hand, preferred to stick to the one sport she loved most: softball. “I played softball, and that was it,” she said. “I never had any interest in playing any other sport.”
Frazier said her parents sacrificed a lot to allow her to participate in the sport — first with local teams, then driving her to Atlanta to play with one of the top travel teams in Georgia: the East Cobb Bullets. Ultimately, her dedication to softball made her one of the best players in the state.
Though Frazier has always been talented and dedicated, her injuries became a nagging issue, beginning with her freshman season at Colquitt County High School. After securing a starting position for her first year, she suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in her left knee, along with a fractured femur. A bad injury, yes, but because of her age and great physical condition, it was something she could rebound from. Frazier optimistically underwent surgery, and it was a success.
Then, four months following the surgery and well into rehab, something wasn’t right. Her range of motion wasn’t where it needed to be, and it was determined that a second surgery would be needed to remove scar tissue. This would force Frazier to be away from the game she loved so dearly for 10 months. But eventually she returned and felt better than ever. Her playing seemed to reflect that, too. She was playing well, and college recruiters were starting to pay attention.
But a mere 15 months after that first injury, Lady Luck thumbed her nose at Frazier once again. “I was rounding third base after hitting a triple, and as I pulled up, I felt it — I had torn my right ACL,” she said. This injury, though not as bad as the first, would be much more destructive in terms of the future. “The recruiting just stopped,” she confessed. “It was so discouraging.”
Never one to give up, Frazier persevered. After surgery and rehab, she returned to playing, eager to work hard and regain the attention of collegiate teams. In addition to playing at Colquitt County, she’d been playing travel ball in the Atlanta area with the Bullets. It was during her time with the travel team that Eastern Kentucky University took notice of Frazier’s skills. The head coach, Jane Worthington, had come to watch the game and offered Frazier an opportunity to visit the school. At that moment, Frazier knew she’d found the right fit.
“I had the mindset that I was going to work hard, and if it was God’s plan, the right school would find me,” she said.
Happily enrolled at Eastern Kentucky University, Frazier was ready to put her injuries behind her. However, she’d soon find it would not be as easy as that. Before playing her first game at EKU, she suffered a minor injury while lifting weights. Fortunately, this mishap needed no surgery, and after a short rehab for the shoulder, Frazier was ready to take to the field for the team’s first practice of spring. She attempted to make a catch and ended up injuring her shoulder — the same one that she had hurt while lifting weights just a few weeks earlier!
This, alas, would mean yet another surgery to fix what turned out to be a torn labrum. There would be nine months of rehab to follow, and this surgery and rehab became the toughest of them all.
“I thought the knee surgeries were bad, but they were nothing like the shoulder surgery,” said Frazier. “It was very rough getting through that.”
Thankfully, she did get through it. Frazier is now focused on settling in at Eastern Kentucky and becoming a contributing member of her team. In the future, she wants to use her college education to help those who have been through or may go through what she endured.
“I’m majoring in exercise science and psychology,” she explained. “I want to help … because I know what it’s like, and it’s rough.”
And if anyone knows how to teach perseverance, it’s Gracie Frazier.
Written by: Phil Jones
Photography submitted by: Gracie Frazier