Grace LaCrosse The Girl Who Does Gymnastics

I spent my entire life answering the question, “Who are you?” by simply stating, “I am a gymnast.” Gymnastics was my defining trait. Gymnastics was my identity. While this allowed me to reach one of the highest levels of competition, collegiate athletics, it also consumed me. I had no idea who I was outside of my sport. As I turned eighteen, left home, and started a new life, the question “Who are you?” remained unanswered.

Welcome to my journey of discovering who I am. Not Grace LaCrosse, the gymnast. Grace LaCrosse, the girl who does gymnastics.

Defined By My Sport

gymnast profile:

Name: Grace Violet LaCrosse

School: Clemson University

Year: Freshman

Major: Marketing & Financial Management

Bio: Trained at Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center. 2020 Conference Bars Champion, a two-year competitor at Level 10, a two-time USAG Level 10 state qualifier, and a USAG Level 10 regional qualifier.

signs of courage

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a college gymnast. It was all so appealing: The lights. The sparkles. The camaraderie. I wanted to feel the thrill of cheering on my teammates and screaming, “ten, ten, ten,” with the crowd echoing behind me. I wanted it more than anything.

I could never have anticipated the adversity I would face along the way. The physical demands, mental pressure, and long training hours make gymnastics an incredibly difficult sport. It requires strength, flexibility, and balance, which take years to develop. Gymnasts deal with the immense pressure of performing routines flawlessly and must overcome the fear of attempting new skills. We train for long hours, sometimes multiple sessions a day, trying to perfect our routines. This intensive training regimen requires dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice.

It took a leap of faith to give up so much of my childhood for a dream I might never achieve. I had to blindly trust that my hard work and dedication would lead the way. I might not have shown courage by jumping out of a plane or saving a life, but I showed courage by never giving up, even when I so deeply feared failure.

lessons learned

Gymnastics has undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am today. Through all the highs and lows, I have learned to work hard, dream big, and never give up. I understand that failure is not a wasted opportunity but a learning experience. I know how to set goals, manage my time, and think critically about my progress.

But gymnastics is not the only chapter in my story. It has taken me years to realize that my athletic ability does not define who I am. What makes me special is my strength, empathy, and passion.

discovering Myself

And slowly but surely you are learning, you are growing to be the person you were meant to be —Anonymous


My love for cooking began at a very young age. I remember helping my mom cook dinner, setting up a camera, and pretending to host my own cooking show. I spent hours watching Food Network; my favorite shows were “Holiday Baking Championship” and “The Kitchen.”

In high school, I decided to share my passion and start an Instagram account. I called it _thefreshavocado. This platform allowed me to express my culinary creativity: developing new recipes and treating food as my canvas.

Since then, The Fresh Avocado has grown to over four thousand community members. My unique ideas and styling skills have allowed me to work with some of my favorite foodie brands.

Find me on Instagram!

Five of my favorite recipes: Chocolate Pancake Toasties (top left), Hot Honey Salmon w/ Peach Salsa (top middle), Chunky Monkey Toast (top right), Enchilada Burger Bowls (bottom left), Cinnamon Oat Bowl (bottom right)


I take great pride in my handwriting: the clean lines, straight sentences, and perfectly spaced letters. This translates into my drawing skills, reflecting my discipline and precision with a pencil.

Art provides me with a safe space to contain my perfectionist energy. I escape to my imagination, feeling at peace as my pencil glides along the paper. Often, I use this artistic ability to express my deeper passions.

I enjoy creating cards for my loved ones, tailoring each to match their unique personalities. I have designed leotards and even wrote the monthly specials on chalkboards at a local restaurant.

Hand-crafted cards

Each card was created for someone special in my life.

unique Designs

Four of my hand-drawn leotard designs.

Chalkboard specials

I spent two years writing the specials at Emil's Tavern & Grill in Grayslake, IL.


Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people —Anonymous

sharing my wisdom:

_thefreshavocado dear younger me,

it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. I’ve been knocked down by injuries, doubts, and disappointment. I’ve had moments where I felt completely alone. Moments where I lost all faith in myself. Yet, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world because I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I’ve become better for it.

I stand here today feeling incredibly grateful and fulfilled. I am committed to the college of my dreams, have THE most amazing family, and am finally learning to give myself a little grace. My mom has always told me that sky is the limit, and for the first time I actually believe it.

With all of that said, I wanted to leave you with this: The saying goes “you only live once”...but I like to think we live EVERY SINGLE DAY. The beauty of life is that we have the chance to wake up tomorrow and try again. Rewrite our story. Start fresh and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.