DOTHAN, AL -- The Marine Corps’ core values of honor, courage and commitment embody everything that a Marine stands for. Their morals, conviction and perseverance as Marines can all be related to not only those values, but their fighting spirit as well. In the face of adversity, Marines harbor every ounce of resolve they have left in order to accomplish their mission; on or off the battlefield.
In that aspect, the Marine Corps wanted to find young student athletes who encompass those very values; the Semper Fidelis All-Americans. These students have faced life’s battles with the conviction and determination to succeed. They embody the same fighting spirit that Marines stand for by taking on their own challenges and succeeding academically, while excelling in athletics and making their community a better place.
Gracyn LeSueur, one of only 100 students across America to be chosen, is exactly what the Marine Corps is looking for when it comes to a Semper Fidelis All-American. She has turned her obstacles into victories by overcoming odds set against her at a very early age.
“I was born a diabetic,” LaSueur said. “I was always looked down upon as not on the equal playing field with everyone else. My parents and doctors said ‘so what if your pancreas doesn’t work, the rest of your body does, and that doesn’t limit you in any way.”
LaSueur said that with advances in science, she can take a shot that acts like her fake pancreas. She takes two shots with breakfast in the morning, one at lunch, two at dinner, and one any other time she eats, totaling to at least five shots a day.
That’s not the only obstacle she has had to overcome.
LaSueur plays as the Libero on the varsity volleyball team for Northview High School. In July 2016, LaSuer tore her meniscus in her right leg, and was told there was a 70 percent chance she would not return to the court. In January of this year she strained her medial collateral ligament (MCL), and was once again taken off the court. However, she did not let this defeat her.
“[My coach] worked with me and my physical therapist worked with me, and we pushed through it. I told myself I wasn’t going to quit, that I was going to do it, and that I was going to beat the odds. I didn’t want anyone to label me as disabled,” LaSueur said.
LaSueur dedicates her successes to her parents and her strength and conditioning coach.
“I want to thank my mom and dad for never giving up on me, and pushing me to be what I am today,” LaSueur said. “Mentally, I have Coach [Derrick] Bumpers to thank for making me do it; I love the sport and never want to quit.”
LaSueur will attend the Battles Won Academy this summer in Washington D.C., where she will be given the opportunity to network with and hear from an elite circle of leaders from all walks of life, who like her, have fought and won their own battles.
She said that she is grateful and appreciative for the opportunity and that she hopes the Battles Won Academy will help her maintain her fighting spirit, and make her a better person for her community.
LaSueur also had a few last words for anyone who is trying to overcome their own adversity.
“Never give up on yourself, never doubt yourself, and never underestimate yourself,” LaSueur said. “You can do a lot more than you think you can.”