c/o Steve McLaughlin

c/o Steve McLaughlin

In Play(er) of the Week, we seek to highlight outstanding Wesleyan athletes or segments of games that deserve extra attention. Grace Devanny ’23 has cemented an incredible athletic legacy at Wesleyan in both the women’s soccer and track & field teams. This fall, Devanny played her final season as a captain and forward for the soccer team and earned her third straight All-NESCAC honor, leading the team in scoring, points, and assists, and leading the conference in shots. Her performances this season came off the back of the team’s stunning journey to the Final Four last year in the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. During the winter, Devanny took to the track for the indoor season, where she was recently named the first Cardinal in team history to be named USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week. She also holds the fastest times in the 200m, 400m, and 500m for all of NCAA DIII this season, on top of setting the DIII record in the 500m. As the spring sports season kicks off, Devanny will be moving to the outdoor track to close out her spectacular athletic career as a Cardinal. 

The Argus sat down with Devanny ahead of the 2023 New England Division III Championships from Friday, Feb. 24 to Saturday, Feb. 25, where she went on to set three meet records and secure victories in the 200m 400m races, along with the 4x200m relay. This left Devanny with 8 career first-place finishes at the meet. As this week’s Play(er) of the Week, Devanny spoke about being a tri-season athlete, the choice between going DI and DIII, and playing sports with her siblings, including her twin brother, Liam Devanny ’23.

The Argus: Could you introduce yourself?

Grace Devanny: I am a neuroscience and psychology double major and I’m a senior. On campus, I’m an academic peer advisor, I am in WesBuds, and I’m also working in a reading and eye movement lab for Professor [Barbara] Juhasz. I’m also on the Executive Board of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. 

A: Could you talk a little bit about how you first got into soccer? 

GD: I have three brothers and they would always go outside and kick the ball and I’d always wanna play with them. So at first, I was on my brothers’ teams growing up because my dad and mom didn’t wanna split us up and have to go to two different schedules. So I would just be put with my twin brother. He’s actually on campus too, on the soccer team. He would be playing and I would just kind of hop in with them and kind of try to hold my own. I think that’s kind of where my skills and abilities started. 

A: When did you realize you wanted to keep doing that when you got to college?

GD: I always thought I wanted to do athletics in college, but I had aspirations of going to higher divisions. I didn’t really know what I was capable of. So when I heard that I could do both [soccer and track] at Wesleyan, that really stuck out to me. 

A: What has that been like for you, juggling all three seasons of college athletics here?

GD: It’s definitely been difficult, but I think I work better when I’m busy. I like a schedule, I know when I need to get my work done, when I need to go to lab, when I have to go to practice, so I have a very rigid schedule of when I need to get all of my homework, readings, and studying done. So it hasn’t been too bad because my coaches are also extremely flexible, giving me the time off that I need so I’m not just doing back-to-back sports, so that’s been helpful. 

A: And what was it like playing your senior season of soccer in the fall? 

GD: It was definitely sad. I think [I’ve] just been playing the sport for so long, but my team is just so much fun and my class specifically, where it was just such a great group of girls, it was just so nice that I ended on a good note in the sport.

A: Do you have any particular highlights or moments that you feel like you’re really going to remember from playing soccer here?

GD: I think in general, my junior year, we won in the Elite 8 to go into the Final Four at MIT. That game will always stick out in my mind ’cause it was overtime and it was such a scary but exciting game. And this year I think we had just so many ups and downs in the season, but I think just our senior day will always stick out in my mind. It was just such a perfect day, it was beautiful outside, all of our families were there, and the team did wonderful things to help us make us feel special.

c/o Steve McLaughlin

c/o Steve McLaughlin

A: You earned your third straight All-NESCAC honor in soccer this year. What was that like for you?

GD: It was great. It was always hard to come back from such a good season [last year] because you have to continue and maintain, so I think that kind of got to me a little bit, but when I found out that I still got the honor, it was exciting. I was really nervous that I didn’t have as good of a season as years prior. It was still so much fun and I still had a great season, but it was just in a different way. 

A: I wanted to also touch on track. Could you talk a little bit about how that first came into your life as a sport?

GD: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. I was playing baseball with my twin brother and we’d always just get tossed in the same sports, obviously. And I think I was in third grade [and] my dad was like, “You know, I don’t think you’re that great at baseball. I think they’re just taking you because they want Liam on their team and you’re just a package deal.” So he put me into track and then I ended up doing a lot better in track than baseball.

A: And you mentioned before when you were thinking about college you were planning to only do track. How long had you been thinking about going to a higher division for track?

GD: [At the] end of my freshman year in high school, I got it in my head that I could do that. I never really knew the standards that you had to reach in order to get into those divisions, and once I started hitting them at a younger age, my coaches really put it in my mind. So I had been thinking about it for a couple years. And I realized that my junior year of high school that I was kind of doing it just to say I went DI when it’s not really about that. It’s about going to a college that you’re gonna enjoy. So that’s why I came here, ’cause I think socially and academically, it’s such a cool place and I was able to do both track and soccer, so it was kind of like a triple whammy of what I wanted out of a school. 

A: Both of your soccer and track careers here have been incredible and amazing to see. How does that feel to hold DIII records and Wesleyan records in so many events?

GD: It feels great, but throughout my recruiting process, there was this one person that stuck out to me and she was like, “Go somewhere that you can make a difference.” And I think that really stuck out to me cause I was like, “I wanna go somewhere that I am valued on their teams and that I can really help them out and like help them be successful.” So I honestly don’t really think about my accolades that much ’cause I couldn’t care much less. I think just growing as an athlete and helping the team out is really what I want to do, and if all of my races and my times help the team get to a better placement in the NESCAC meet or if my speed and my abilities on the soccer team helped us get to Final Four, then that’s what I wanted as a school. So it worked out.

A: Do you find your mindset changing from when you play soccer to when you’re running track?

GD: Yeah, definitely. Soccer, I’m not as nervous before games just because I have so many people to rely upon on the field that I know if I mess up, everyone on the field can pick up on my mistakes. And it’s such a long game that I can make a mistake and then come back from [it]. But track, it’s just knowing that I have less than a minute on the track and if I don’t feel good right now, it’s not gonna be a good race. So I think I get a lot more nervous before track. But I also prepare a lot more for my track meets, drinking water, eating right, just knowing that a little thing can be off and I’m not gonna run as well. So I do a lot better in taking care of my body and my mind before races. 

A: And then from either sport, do you have any favorite traditions with the team or pre-game ritual type of things that you do? 

GD: For relays, it’s me, my friend Gabby [Harris ’23], Augusta [Burhans ’23], and Kenzie [Kelly ’25], and Gabby does a really good job of getting us ready before our relay. We all huddle up and put our hands on the baton and she prays for us and really just pumps us up. So I think that is one thing that I always kind of look forward to ’cause for as long as I am extremely nervous throughout the day, that one moment is one time that my heartbeat goes down and I ground myself. And then soccer is kind of the opposite. We are in the locker room before the games and there’s a couple songs that we really like to put on and we’re like, “Okay, this is our time to get in the zone.” One of them is “Kill the Lights,” and we’ve been dancing [to] that for years on this team, at least since my freshman year, probably before that. It’s a time to get in the moment and appreciate each other while also just having fun getting on the field.

A: Heading into the final stages of the indoor season, do you have anything you’re keeping in mind or thinking about?

GD: Right now, I think for today [Feb. 24] and tomorrow [Feb. 25], I know what seed I am, so I know how I place amongst other athletes, and I think trying to remind myself that I have put in a ton of training and [remembering] all the good races that I have had, just because it’s so easy to get in your head and be like, “Oh my gosh, maybe this girl’s gonna cut off all this time and beat me.” And at the end of the day, I just need to worry about myself and see how many points we can get from the races that I’m in, and then hopefully we can place well as a team.

A: With the outdoor season starting soon, does something change for you when you switch to running track outdoors? 

GD: Yeah, I think it’s a lot easier mentally to go outdoors because it’s a different track and it’s less laps. Also, I like being in the sun and being indoors sometimes can be kind of depressing. You’re in that little track five days a week and you’re like, “Okay, you need some sunshine.” So I think being outside in the warm weather will be really nice. And just being out there with all my teammates will be really fun and it’ll signify the end of my senior year. So I think it’ll definitely be a little bit more, not necessarily fun, but definitely a different vibe. I like outdoor [track] better, if you can’t tell.

A: And with the end of your senior year coming up, do you know what your plans are for after graduation? Do you plan to keep sports in your life?

GD: I definitely want to keep sports in my life. I’m gonna be in Boston working at a life science consulting firm, and my brothers are both in Boston and they both play in a co-ed soccer league. So I’m definitely gonna keep soccer in my life, playing with them, which will kind of be a full circle moment ’cause I started playing with them and they are the reason why I got into the sport. So finishing with them just on this random little team in Boston [will] be fun. And then track, it’s so easy to keep that sport in your life because running is such an easy form of exercise. But if I don’t continue sprinting, then I kind of want to have a different type of competition in my life and try to work towards longer distances, like half marathons, and do that. My brother is training for a half marathon or maybe a full marathon this summer, so I may do that with him, ’cause he’s doing it in memory of his friend who just passed. [I’ve] never been a long distance girly though. 

A: And then is there anything else that you wanna add about your experience being an athlete here at Wesleyan?

GD: I think, honestly, just going back to my brother, just having him. My oldest brother played soccer in college, and then Trevor, my middle brother went to Wesleyan and played soccer too. And then my twin brother’s been here, and [that] has just been such a cool experience playing sports with him again cause I’ve always played sports with him my whole life. So it’s been so much fun going through this experience of college with one of my best friends [who] has always been by my side. He’s been the number one supporter of my life, just giving him a little shout out. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

If you would like to nominate a Play(er) of the Week, please reach out to ebyerly@wesleyan.edu with either the athlete’s name and once sentence about why they deserve to be nominated, or the team, date of the game, and players involved, and the segment that you would wish to highlight.

Jem Shin can be reached at jshin01@wesleyan.edu

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