Finding the right balance of school, sports, family
WAUSAU It’s challenging for a top high school athlete or scholar to maintain a sense of emotional, physical and intellectual balance while trying to achieve excellence.

It is even tougher for a teenager who is terrific in sports and academics. But Grace Larrain, 18, a senior at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau, has managed it all with, well, plenty of grace.

Grace has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, scored a 31 on the ACT college entrance exam and volunteered through both church and school. She helps care for her younger siblings. And in the fall of her senior year, she accomplished a years-long goal of becoming a state champion in tennis.
Grace Larrain

Age: 18
Residence: Wausau
School: Newman Catholic High School
Parents: Dr. German and Carolina Larrain
College Plans: College still undetermined, but plans to pursue studies in business.
Hobbies: Grace spends a lot of time helping care for her younger siblings

Even within the academic realm, Grace finds a way to equalize her passions. She doesn’t have a favorite subject; she loves them all. That’s why it wasn’t until recently that she decided to pursue a career in business and why she hasn’t finalized which college she will attend next year. She has been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is awaiting word from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and Princeton University in New Jersey.

No matter her choice, she said, she will not likely play tennis at the competitive level of the NCAA.

“They’re all Division I schools,” Grace said. “Balancing school and tennis would be tough.”

Instead, she plans to play tennis at a less competitive level, and concentrate on school. But it’s likely she’ll go at it all with gusto.

“I honestly believe I am internally motivated by a desire to always do my best and finish with the best results possible,” Grace wrote in applying for the Gannett Central Wisconsin Media Academic All Star Team.

Grace’s abilities come as no surprise to Jamie Delikowski, principal of Newman Catholic High School. He has watched them for three years.

“Grace is an extremely successful student academically, socially and athletically,” he said. “It’s rare to find the student who is at the top of her game in every area and maintains that excellence with a quiet and kind humility.”

Her family has nurtured her desire for excellence, Grace said.

Her father, Dr. German Larrain, is a cardiologist, and he’s “always trying to get higher in life, always motivated to be better, to become the best he can be,” Grace said.

Her mother works just as hard as a stay-at-home mom, Grace said, providing the example of how important caring for other people is. Grace has eight brothers and sisters, and the family eats dinner together whenever possible. “It’s crazy,” Grace said.

Even though she’s aiming to become a business executive, Grace wants to balance work with family and volunteerism.

“I want to be part of the community and help people out,” she said.

She knows it won’t always come easy. But she already has shown her grit, exemplified in her state tennis championship. Winning that crown, she said, is the moment she is most proud of in her high school career. That’s because it wasn’t an easy road. She was a runner-up as a sophomore, and a disappointing fourth her junior year.

Winning felt great, Grace said, “just because I put in so many hours of work.”

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