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Image Courtesy of Duke Athletics

Grace Kim, a junior on the Duke Field Hockey team and a participant in the Summer 2020 ACE in Place program, was recently interviewed by Inside Duke Sports with Duke’s Athletic Director, Kevin White.

Grace plays defense on the field hockey team, started 29 of 30 games in the last two years, is a two-time NFHCA national academic squad member, as well as an ACC Academic All-Honor roll honoree. In the podcast, she talks with Dr. White about her participation in the ACE in Place program this past summer, explains how ACE showed her that you can still give back despite working in a virtual environment, and comments on the recent success and resiliency of the field hockey team as well as her excitement for the spring 2021 season.

Kevin White: Before we talk about the season, I want to talk about the summer and the ACE program. Obviously, with everything going on it has also been affected by the pandemic. The program got re-vamped and branded ACE in Place. Take us through your thoughts on that experience.

Grace Kim: I was super excited to be headed to Peru, that’s the location I was going to for ACE. I was so happy to have been accepted to the program, it was a pretty lengthy process. But then COVID hit and had a mind of its own and changed things up, but I think Emily and Sean acted pretty quickly and changed the program up to make it the best possible alternative to an actual ACE abroad. I think it was great. They did the best they could with what we had to work with. They were able to connect us with some amazing people who spoke to us once a week and we got to still connect with other Duke and Stanford student-athletes. I was hoping to have obviously gone to Peru, but what they were able to put together, especially at a time like COVID when everything is so unprecedented, I was happy to have been a part of it.

White: It is well known that student-athlete schedules are jam-packed. Why did you choose to participate in this re-told ACE program? How did you balance that remote engagement with other summer jobs or obligations?

Kim: So even with COVID I still had a busy schedule. I worked this summer over quarantine and I was still training even though I wasn’t sure what the fall would hold for our season. I went through the ACE application and interview process and I was so excited that I couldn’t just let this opportunity go. Even if it was on Zoom and totally new and different, I had to be a part of it. The way that Emily sold this program to me just had me fully committed from day one, and I wanted to be a part of it no matter if it was once a week, twice a week, five weeks long – no matter what it was I was just happy to be a part of it. I had been so excited to partake and be a part of it that I knew I just had to stay with it no matter what.

White: Every Tuesday the program featured guest speakers. Which of those resonated most with you and why?

Kim: I think one of my favorite speakers was Leslie Barnes. Of course, she is a part of the Duke Community and everyone loves her. Freshman year I got to interact with Leslie through A.C.T.I.O.N. so I already knew I was a big fan of hers. But getting to see her bubbly and positive and smiling through Zoom on that Tuesday was such a great bonus during my quarantine and she led us through some mindfulness activities, which I loved because quarantine was obviously a very stressful and uncertain time. And having her, a close confidante, who brings a lot of joy to everyone that she meets was just such a great experience. She reminded us that sure, all of this craziness was happening and sure, our ACE program wasn’t quite what we imagined, but she reminded us how to center ourselves and check back in and fall back on the basics.

White: Elaborate on the moment where it clicked for you that yes it’s remote, but you can have an impact. Was there a moment or a couple of moments where it really hit you, the impact you were having?

Kim: Yeah, there were a few moments during quarantine and after being trapped inside for so long I realized that I could still stay involved in programs and give back even though I couldn’t be there in person. Like my team, we started to build on our education in topics within racial justice and we started looking into Durham organizations that we could pair with even though we were spread out all across the world. Especially right now with social media and technology – for our generation that is a huge thing, and sometimes it has its negative aspects and we’re a little sucked into our phones, but during this time it was huge. We were able to stay connected and rebuild our culture while also educating ourselves on important topics and finding ways to still give back to the community even if we had to do it through Zoom. It was just a really great time to get connected.

Kim goes on to further comment about the difficulties of playing in a time of year that is typically field hockey’s off-season and notes that Duke hosting the 2025 NCAA Field Hockey National Championships will be a huge opportunity to showcase Duke as an athletic program and a university.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Grace.