Favorite athlete: Carson Wentz
Favorite team: Navy Women’s Lacrosse
Favorite memory competing in sports: Playing with my best friends and beating a league rival.
Music on mobile device: Everything from country to pop
Future plans: Attending the U.S. Naval Academy and then serving in the U.S. Navy after.
Words to live by: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
One goal before turning 30: Become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and start a family.
One thing people don’t know about me: I was born on St. Patrick’s Day.
By Mary Jane Souder
Grace Loughery was watching a lacrosse practice at the U.S. Naval Academy during a recruiting trip to the Annapolis campus when she spotted several midshipmen working out on their own. The Pennridge senior knew immediately this was a place she could call home for the next four years.
So convinced was Loughery that she cancelled college visits she’d set up at the University of Southern California, Harvard, James Madison and Virginia Tech.
Loughery began the application process to the Naval Academy last summer and received her appointment in January.
“The midshipmen are so motivated to stay in shape and run, do pull-ups and sit-ups on their own,” Loughery said. “Having that kind of mentality will be good. It forces me to work on the things I need to work on.”
Not that Loughery needs any encouragement to work hard. She doesn’t.
“She’s the kind of kid that in the fall when I’m having two open workouts a week she wants to have four,” Pennridge lacrosse coach Karen Schnurr said. “She wants to play all the time.”
Schnurr, who began coaching Loughery in club lacrosse as a seventh grader, knew from her first introduction to the now senior captain that she was not your typical middle school athlete.
“She was a little shorter but the same feisty, same aggressive, passionate player,” the Rams’ coach said. “Summer lacrosse it’s hot – she would never want to stop.
“In a seventh grader, you think it’s one of two things. This girl loves the sport and just wants to play all the time or this girl just has raw talent and energy and will just go.”
In Loughery’s case, both are true.
“When I first met her as a seventh grader, she was very serious and driven,” Schnurr said. “As I’ve gotten to know her over the years, she is that same dedicated, passionate player.
“When she was looking at colleges, she brought up Navy, and I thought to myself, ‘Is this the right fit?’ Grace likes regiment, she likes routine, she likes discipline, she likes structure. I thought – this is the absolute perfect fit for her.”
Loughery admits it’s an outcome she could not have imagined.
“Honestly, the Naval Academy or the military was never one of my long-term goals, but once I was being recruited and visiting there, feeling the honor and pride they had to serve their country, that definitely was the number one thing I wanted to do,” Loughery said. “The first time I visited – I loved it.”
After four years at the Naval Academy, Loughery will serve for an additional five years.
“I’ve been thinking about aviation, flying possibly,” she said. “I’m not 100 percent sure. I don’t think I’ll know for sure until I’m there.”
Students at the Naval Academy select a major at the end of their freshman year.
“I’ve been thinking about aerospace engineering, but that could change as well,” Loughery said. “You definitely have to have a different mindset to go there, but I like it. In a way, I feel like everybody who will be going there is kind of like me in a sense. It’s exciting.”
It hardly comes as a surprise that Loughery is passionate about sports. Her mother Kathy Loughery - the assistant varsity lacrosse coach at Pennridge - was recruited by the University of Maryland for both field hockey and lacrosse. Due to the heavy workload, she opted to play only field hockey. Her father, Rob Loughery, played Division III football at Dickinson.
Interestingly, Loughery never tried her hand at field hockey, but she did play soccer and basketball well before lacrosse entered the picture in fourth grade.
Loughery played travel soccer as well as AAU basketball for several years. Soccer fell by the wayside in middle school, and when it came down to basketball and lacrosse, lacrosse won out.
“I just saw more opportunities for lacrosse,” Loughery said. “I got to play with a lot of my really close friends in lacrosse and that was a big part of it.”
It took absolutely no time at all for Loughery to make an impact at the high school level.
“One of her strengths is her power to take it 1v1,” Schnurr said. “She has such power and such quick feet.
“On the flip side is her decision making on defense. She knows when to jump the ball, she knows when to check the ball, she knows how to hold. She’s a smart defender.”
The Pennridge senior was a fixture in the starting lineup for four years until midway through this past season when she injured her wrist during the Rams’ April 18 game against Central Bucks South.
“I kind of fell and braced it,” she said. “I finished out the game. I couldn’t really hold my stick in my right hand, but it didn’t hurt too bad.
“At first, the doctors didn’t think I broke it. They thought it was a sprain, but then I had to go back and get an MRI and they decided it was broken.”
Loughery watched the last 10 games of her final high school season from the sidelines.
“It was really hard to watch my teammates play and be on the sidelines,” she said. “But I just tried to be there for them, cheer them on, coach the underclassmen through anything if they needed it.”
Elected captain by her teammates before the start of the season, Loughery assumed a leadership role even when she wasn’t on the field.
“The first game I was without her was Council Rock South, and a lot of the girls said, ‘We need Grace because we’re missing her spark,’” Schnurr said. “It was true. She just has the spark that ignites other people to push themselves and to work harder.
“She never stops, and kids feed off of that. She’s more a leader by example. She sets the tone for everyone else.
“When she got hurt, she was on the sidelines, she was on the bus, she was at practices. I think the only day she came late was the day she was getting her cast. It was almost like she became a mini coach. Her teammates definitely missed her on the field. It was a void we could not fill this season.”
Loughery also excels in the classroom. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Exec Council. At her church, she is involved with Bridge Disabilities Ministries, working with children who have autism.
Just as she strives for perfection on the lacrosse field, it’s the same story in the classroom.
“My goal is straight A’s,” she said. “AP classes are really hard, so I haven’t gotten the A’s there, but that’s my goal.”
Loughery is in the top 11 percent of her senior class.
“She’s a kid that gets an A-minus and wants to retake the test to get an A-plus,” Schnurr said. “I would like to say I’m kidding, but I’m dead serious. She’s very studious.
“Just the same way she is about lacrosse – she’s the same way with her academics. To me, she’s a player you get once in a lifetime. She’s passionate, she cares, she wants to better herself and her team.”