Northern Star: Grace Kirk
For this week's Northern Star, we hear from the captain of the Duluth Marshall girls basketball team.
DULUTH, Minn. – Back in March, the Duluth Marshall girls basketball team had their season end at the hands of Proctor in the Section 7AA title game. Nearly nine months later, that loss is still stuck in the minds of the Hilltoppers, even more so with senior guard Grace Kirk.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my career. I took it really personal. My principal told me the day after, he said: “the hardest workout ever is the day after a big loss like that. But it’s also the easiest workout ever because you have a lot of motivation”. So I took that really literally and I went right back into the gym the next day. I was lifting. I looked at the film and I knew exactly what I needed to do,” said Kirk.
Last month, Kirk put pen to paper and officially committed to playing Division I basketball at Brown University, a decision she wanted to make before the start of her senior season.
“I wanted this year to be straight Marshall basketball. I didn’t want to worry about recruiting or anything like that. I think it also set the tone for other girls that they know that I’m on that level. Here you go, you have to play against a Division I athlete,” said Kirk.
And Kirk has been stellar in the early going, averaging nearly 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds per game. But head coach CJ Osuchukwu is still one of her harshest critics.
“I’m trying to prepare her for that next level. Not to be ready for high school basketball. Don’t get me wrong. This is what you’re playing now. But just to get her prepared off the court mentally and physically for that next level so I’m always on her and always pushing her to be better,” Osuchukwu said.
Kirk says she hopes her skills on the court can help her achieve bigger goals off the court.
“I’m really big into social justice. That’s my thing. My dream would be to work for the American Civil Liberties Union and advocate for minorities. Even if it means not making a lot of money, I’m ready to advocate for people who don’t have voices usually,” Kirk said.
“I feel like usually in Duluth, the minority population gets judged a certain way and I think she’s nothing like that at all. She’s just showing people that she can be whatever she really wants to be. I think she’s a prime example. I think she’s a good person to look up to, boy or girl, to just thrive to whatever you want to be in life,” said Osuchukwu.
“It’s not very common in girls basketball in the Northland to see a person of color playing. But here I am doing it and that’s huge for me,” said Kirk.
But for now, the goal is simple: bring Duluth Marshall girls basketball its first section title in 20 years.
“It would solidify that all the work that I put in, the sleepless nights, watching film during class when I probably shouldn’t be, lifting, all the hours just paid off and everything that I’ve hoped for came true,” said Kirk.