Grace Olivia Glofcheskie was born in Arnprior, Ont., on March 6, 1991, to Gerard, a power lineman with Hydro One, and Nancy, who worked variously as a packager at a baby bottle factory and a cake decorator. The couple had four children: Adam came first in 1986, followed by Luke, Grace, and finally, in 1996, Rachel.
Grace was strong-willed and active from an early age; “She had two brothers to follow,” says Gerard. When she was five, her mother announced she was having another baby. Grace, says Nancy, insisted it be a girl. Her mother patiently explained they’d get what they’d get. “No, mom,” said Grace. “It has to be a girl! I already have two brothers.” She got her wish.
Early on, Grace displayed unusually mature, good manners. When the family got a backyard pool when Grace was five, she told neighbourhood friends that if they wanted to swim they could not use bad words and they should address her parents as Mr. and Mrs. Glofcheskie. The Glofcheskies regularly attended church, and religious faith would be important throughout Grace’s life. Her compassion and humanity seemed to come naturally. “That was just the way she was wired,” says Gerard. “She had a great sense of right and wrong.”
She was also wired to be a competitive athlete. She was happiest on a soccer ﬁeld, rugby pitch, hockey rink, tennis court or golf course. There was no girls’ hockey in Arnprior when Grace ﬁrst started to play, so she joined a boy’s minor hockey team at nine. She played with boys until Grade 9, when there were finally girls’ teams. She’d eventually captain a rugby team and two hockey teams, but golf became her passion. At 13, she was interviewed by an Ottawa golf magazine, Flagstick, and asked who her favourite players were. “Instead of saying the names of professionals,“ says Gerard, “she said, ‘My brothers, Adam and Luke.’ ”
Grace was especially close to her sister, Rachel. From a young age and through university, when they were home to relax, one sister would lie atop the other on the couch to watch the Food Network or a favourite sports movie. “Other young girls when they are growing up, they look toward celebrities or famous athletes” for role models, says Rachel. “But I just had to look in the bedroom across from mine.”
Grace paid her own way through university, working in a gym and cleaning at a dental office. She saved money by shopping at Value Village. She had the marks to go to just about any university and chose the University of Guelph. Just a two-minute walk away from campus was the Cutten Golf and Country Club, which allowed the university’s Gryphons golf team to play for free. Grace played on the team from 2010 to 2014, becoming captain in her last year.
The Gryphons called her Mama G, says coach Brandon McLeod, because Grace often brought players bags of baked goods she’d make for road trips. She’d make sure everyone was prepared for competitions, and often drove teammates to events in her dad’s van. “She didn’t hit the ball far,” says Lukas Linde, a friend who often played golf with Grace. But “she’s the model of consistency, her drives always straight and perfectly down the middle.” Off the course, says Lukas, Grace crammed a lot into a day: sports, studies, volunteering on university committees, organizing fundraisers and social events. Her memorable laugh—“loud and awesome,” says her father—was often heard through U of G halls.
Grace, who studied human kinetics, did her master’s research thesis under associate professor Stephen Brown, discovering that golfers and long distance runners have superior motor control in their backs compared to others. She was humble but confident about her work and generously helped other students, says Stephen. Recently, Motus Global, an American biomechanics research firm that works with professional athletes, hired Grace on an internship, set to begin in January, to conduct research at the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida.
On Dec. 13, Grace was walking home at 2:30 in the morning after escorting a girlfriend home from a birthday celebration at a pub. Just 200 m from her front door, a driver who’d driven through a check stop in a stolen SUV, and who was evading police, lost control and flipped the vehicle. It struck and killed Grace. She was 24.