Park City’s Grace Donahue and twins Livi and Gabby Rockwood sign letters of intent
Golfer Grace Donahue and tennis twins Gabby and Livi Rockwood are all Park City senior athletes who committed to playing their respective sports in college at a signing on Feb. 8, but they’ll be taking their talents to opposite coasts. Here’s a look at the future plans of the Rockwoods, bound for the West Coast, and Grace Donahue, who is heading back East.
Playing together, standing apart
Last Friday, Livi and Gabby Rockwood committed to the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, just east of Los Angeles.
Born and raised in Park City, the twins first started playing tennis semi-seriously in fifth grade at the PC MARC.
“We kind of always knew we wanted to play in college,” said Livi.
The two helped Park City High secure Utah state championships for three of their four years, beginning when they jumped onto the team’s No. 1 (Livi) and No. 2 (Gabby) singles spots as freshmen. Since then the team won all but last season’s championships.
They’d initially decided that no matter where they went, it wouldn’t be together – but that didn’t last long.
Livi said they were worried they wouldn’t branch out and meet new people, while Gabby said she was worried she would be categorized as “a twin” instead of an individual.
But they both wanted the same things in their college experience, and Redlands, an NCAA Division III school, checked all of their boxes: It’s warm year-round, has smaller class sizes at about 400 academic staff for 5,000 students, a tennis program, and a welcoming atmosphere.
“It’s nice to have that community feel,” Gabby said. “I have a friend who goes to a school in L.A., and she doesn’t even know who goes to her school.”
She said coach Geoff Roche was personable which was an advantage over some of the other programs the twins visited. Roche, who has led Bulldog men’s and women’s tennis since 1998, coached the women’s team to an 11-10 record in 2018, though this season has opened with two losses with their next matchup against UC San Diego on Saturday.
“Some coaches were pretty indifferent,” Gabby said. “It was nice to have a coach who wanted us to be there.”
It didn’t hurt that both of the twins’ parents are Redlands alumni and that the two had visited the school several times even before their college searches began.
Looking back on their time as Miners, Livi said her biggest achievement was the personal improvement she made on and off the court.
“I think tennis has helped me become who I am,” she said. “It’s helped me learn discipline and to accept loss, and I don’t think I would have learned if I didn’t play tennis.”
“I’m proud of playing and my persistence, and who I’ve become and who I’ve met in the tennis world,” she said.
When asked what her goals were for her collegiate experience, Gabby said she plans to major in art. But just as big a challenge may be standing out on her own while remaining close to Livi – even playing on the same tennis team, possibly as doubles partners.
“When I’m at school, I’m ‘the twin’ and not ‘Gabby,’ so I wanted a sense of individuality,” Gabby said, reflecting on the initial choice to look at different schools. “But when I think about going by myself, I think I would (rather) be considered the twin than not go with my sister.”
Livi, who isn’t sure what to select for a major, sees her goal as differentiating herself from the sport that has given her so much. She said one of the big draws to play for Redlands was that Roche encourages travel abroad.
“I want to get a new perspective and see new cultures,” she said. “I also want to explore more of who I am as a person. … I’m so happy to play in college, but tennis isn’t who I am, so I’m going to try and find who I am.”
Another range to golf in
Grace Donahue signed to play golf at Washington and Lee University, a D-III team in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday.
Donahue, who grew up in Park City, started playing golf with her father when she was eight years old, but it wasn’t until her freshman year at PCHS that she played competitively.
“Ever since then I just kept playing more and more and decided that was the sport I wanted to compete in,” she said.
She joined George Murphy’s team in 2015 and her other competitive endeavors — moguls racing and soccer — fell by the wayside as Donahue delved deeper into golf.
The team has taken second at state the past three years, something Murphy said Donahue and her teammates are hungry to fix going into this season next month.
But so far, Donahue said her biggest achievement was probably competing in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open at East Bay Golf Course in Provo last August, where she finished 21st among professionals and elite amateur golfers. She was also the UHSAA Region 11 champion last season.
“I’m pretty proud to be part of the high school team,” she said “It’s fun to be part of a team that’s performed well.”
She plans to study business and Spanish at the private university.
Donahue said she found the school while looking at colleges in Virginia, her father’s home state.
“I loved every part of it,” she said of Washington and Lee, which has a student body of just under 2,000 undergrads and is located in a small college town nestled into the Appalachians. “It’s a really good community in a unique town. … Once I contacted the coach, the two pieces came together – a good school and an opportunity to play golf.”
When she gets there next fall, Donahue plans to make the most of her time at Washington and Lee without putting too much pressure on herself.
“I just want to have fun with it and play as well as I can,” she said. “To make an impact as a freshman would be awesome; to make that travel team, but (my focus is) just to have fun and enjoy it.”
She thanked her parents for supporting her, saying they’re “the reason I am where I am.”
After all, her journey to collegiate sports started with a casual round with her dad.
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