Sports

“What We’re All About:” Graceann Bennett and the power of on-court persistence

November 5, 2022


Bennett has been a central figure on the women’s basketball team, starting nearly every game she’s played in on the Hilltop Design by Natalia Porras

For senior post player Graceann Bennett, everything comes back to hard work.

She attributes that attitude to her parents, both college athletes themselves. Her father Jeff was a football player at Syracuse and Holy Cross; her mother Michelle played center for Keene State. They both became coaches before Bennett was born; as a result, she was raised in the sports world.

From a young age, Bennett’s diligent work ethic—and eventual 6’3” height—worked in her favor. They earned her a spot on a travel basketball team when she was in the fourth grade. She loved the game from the start and turned that passion into a consistent, visible determination to always get better. Playing college ball, however, didn’t cross Bennett’s mind for much of her childhood.

“When I started playing, my intention, which has stayed the same throughout, was to get as good as I could, and work as hard as I could,” Bennett explained. “That was what my parents emphasized—when you pick something that you want to dedicate yourself to, it’s about work ethic. So there was never a conversation about a college scholarship in my house.”

That changed when Bennett was 13 years old. She attended a camp at Binghamton University in New York, a three-hour drive from her upstate hometown of Lake George. The coach there offered her a basketball scholarship, and she began to envision a future for herself in the college game for the first time.

Throughout Bennett’s high school career, a number of universities, including Georgetown, offered her a place in their programs. Then, during her sophomore year, she had a femur surgery due to a condition called osteochondritis dissecans, which occurs when part of a bone dies due to lack of blood flow. The first surgery didn’t work, which forced her to have another one.

At this point, she had missed a significant amount of playing time, but Georgetown never wavered or rescinded their offer. This commitment was what convinced her to come to the Hilltop.

“Georgetown was like, ‘We want you regardless. We have faith that this is going to work out.’ And that gave me a ton of peace of mind,” Bennett said.

Since her recruitment, Bennett has been a central figure on the women’s basketball team, starting nearly every game she’s played in on the Hilltop. When asked why, she echoed those same values her parents instilled in her so many years ago: energy, consistency, and work ethic.

It’s a mindset visible in every moment of her play. From the first time she put on her Georgetown uniform, she’s had a central goal: “I think it’s my work ethic. And that’s something that is just consistent for me all the time. I am going to work as hard as I can and as smart as I can for my team.”

It’s a mindset that her coaches and teammates have noticed. Kelsey Ransom, a junior guard out of New Jersey, said that Bennett is “a phenomenal teammate.”

“She is consistently bringing energy whenever anybody needs it. You never have to worry about her effort. You never have to worry that she’s half-assing. You know she’s there. She’s 100 percent,” Ransom said.

Head Coach James Howard, who has coached Bennett for her entire Georgetown career, echoed this sentiment. He emphasized her leadership skills as well, explaining that she’s put in her characteristic extra effort in practice with the new team members to show them what the Georgetown women’s basketball culture looks like.

The importance of team culture is something that everyone interviewed consistently highlighted—Graceann included. As a senior, her playing career at Georgetown is coming to a close, even though she does have one last year of eligibility after this season.

That upcoming eligibility deadline makes chasing wins more critical than ever: “The most important thing to me personally, and as a team, is winning games, because everything is more fun when you’re winning,” Bennett said. “So for me, it’s doing what I can personally to contribute to those wins.”

In her eyes, those contributions are going to come in a variety of different forms. Bennett wants to be “a reliable double-double kid,” someone who makes shots while also holding down the fort on defense.

Above all else, though, she wants to continue to be the same persistent player she’s been since fourth grade, as well as a supportive leader on the team. For Bennett, it all comes down to how hard she works, something she said “is less measurable” than things that show up on stats sheets, but is meaningful nonetheless.

This season will test her ability to meet all of those goals. Georgetown faces off against Mississippi State and Temple in the offseason before entering the gauntlet of BIG EAST play. They’ll have to battle with many others, including a depleted but still dangerous UConn as well as Creighton—last year’s Cinderella story during March Madness. It won’t be an easy season, but Bennett is determined to make what could possibly be her last season here count.

“I have been so grateful to the Georgetown community for how they’ve treated me in my time here and the love I’ve felt,” she said. “And I really want to share the energy and the love that’s in our team, [and for] people to really come in and see what we do here, and what we’re all about.”

 



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