Focus Carlsbad Fall 2021 | Community Spotlight

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At fourteen years old, big-city girl Gracie Eckles made the move to the small town of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

That was in 2018 when her family relocated from Houston, Texas down to the Southeast corner of the Land of Enchantment. That kind of long-distance move would rattle most kids her age, but Gracie took it all in stride and saw the prospect of a new city and a new school as a grand adventure. It was a chance to continue to pursue her passion for volleyball in a whole new state. Gracie began playing the sport in the 3rd grade and began playing on a club team in 6th grade.
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Gracie

Get to the gym. Get your hands on a ball and make as many repetitions as you can; that’s how you get better.

–  Gracie's advice is to anyone who wants to get better at volleyball

Carlsbad warmed to Gracie immediately. “I felt so welcomed right away,” she remembers. “I love the community of Carlsbad. In about a month, I had made some friends and found a club volleyball team to join: Blackout.” Later that year, she tried out for Cavegirl Volleyball, and she has been a fixture on the team ever since. Now, as a junior, she helps lead the Cavegirl varsity team. At 6’1” tall with an impressive 25+ inch vertical leap, Gracie is a force to be reckoned with on the court. She can play every position but loves specializing in the outside hitting position when she can. “I enjoy the strategy and the competitive aspect of the game,” Gracie says. She’s hoping to earn a spot on a college volleyball team, so she can pursue her dream of becoming a physical therapist.

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Gracie says she has thrived in the positive environment of Cavegirl Volleyball coached by Bill Niemeier. Cavegirl Volleyball is a large program with a place for just about everybody. The team is not about just sticking to the high school gym, either. The Cavegirls hit the natatorium next door for conditioning training, and regularly hit the sand volleyball courts at The Beach along the Pecos River to practice, especially during the summer months. It is easy to make friends on the Cavegirl court and in the region as well. Social media and regional tournaments help foster a larger sense of volleyball community across the state. 

Article written by Kaity Hirst and originally published in Focus on Carlsbad 2021 Fall edition.
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