In July, the entire Greenville University community was devastated when they learned that Allyson Grabowski, a well-known student-athlete had suddenly passed away. This deeply impacted those who knew Ally most and all those who had a connection with her, especially with the Greenville women’s and men’s volleyball programs.
To try and honor Ally, this past fall season the GU women’s volleyball team celebrated their team captain’s life by having t-shirts, water bottles, and ribbons made with #iplayforski to remember her. Before every game, the team would leave a spot open in the lineup where Ally would have stood with her #12 jersey. On what would have been Ally’s senior night, both teams started the night by staying silent the first 12 points of the game to represent her #12 jersey. Once the team scored 12 points, the entire gym exploded with bittersweet energy and many emotions, a beautiful tribute that no one there that night will ever forget. If you missed that memorable night, check out the video below.
Since Ally’s impact and loss extended beyond the women’s team, her fiancé, George Black and his teammates on the GU men’s volleyball team have also chosen to do several things to try to honor Ally during their spring season. Senior team captains George Black and Logan Dameris wanted to pick a theme that best represented how Ally lived out her life and so that is how the team’s theme, FEARLESS, for this season was born.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of Self-Discipline.”
-2 Timothy 1:7
Black discussed the reasoning behind 2 Timothy 1:7. “Ally and I were very similar just not having the confidence to do things and the reason behind that is because we would put our value in the things we were doing, which I think is a huge problem today. It’s really hard for us to put value in worldly things so it was something we kind of were constantly asking God for help to us give us the confidence to do whatever you want to vest right now. Ally could live through God especially through playing volleyball. Her ability to just go out there and hurt herself to get any ball up or to love anyone when they weren’t the greatest to her was really showing God’s love. I think her ability to do that was in her value, which I think just made other people take notice of that, and we wanted to find a way for her to constantly show what God was doing into her life.”
Dameris also reflected on how Ally lived fearlessly. “For the short time that I was fortunate enough to know Allyson, it was quite inspiring to watch her grow immensely in almost every facet of her life – as a student, athlete, friend, leader, a follower of Christ, etc. I believe this transformation can be largely attributed to her desire to live confidently, purposefully, and faithfully. She worked tirelessly to find her identity in Christ which helped her during times of worry, trouble, and doubt. It is my great hope that we can continue on Allyson’s legacy by striving to live our lives as fearlessly as she.”
To always remind the team who they are playing for, long-sleeve practice jerseys in one of Ally’s favorite colors, green, were made and printed with FEARLESS and the 2 Timothy 1:7 verse on the front, plus a silhouette of Ally diving for the ball on the back. Before the team received these jerseys, they agreed that if they wore them, they would know the 2 Timothy 1:7 verse by heart and that they would live fearlessly in all the things they do whether it is during practice, games, in the classroom, or anywhere in public. In addition to these jerseys, Black has changed his game jersey to the same #12 that Ally wore so that he can represent her on the court and play out his heart for her.
In the team locker room, new signage has also been added to never forget Ally and what the season is all about. When players first enter the locker room, the first thing they see is the FEARLESS theme and the entire 2 Timothy 1:7 bible verse written out. Another plaque on the wall has an image of Ally with positive, encouraging words reminding us of how she lived out her life. Remaining FEARLESS is an especially important theme for the team this season since they have lost several key players due to injuries and only have five returning players to lead the team.
Recently, it was announced that two $1,000 scholarships were created in honor of Ally. The first one is the Bio/Chem Award which will go to a rising Greenville University senior who demonstrates her character qualities and majors in biology and/or chemistry. The other award is the STEM Scholarship which will go to an incoming student who demonstrates her character qualities and majors in one of the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics.
In addition to these scholarships, both the women’s and men’s teams have partnered up to fundraise a sand volleyball court that will be built in Ally’s memory. Sand volleyball was one of her favorite activities, so if you would like to help donate to this exciting project, visit this page.
To see the men’s team in action playing their games Fearlessly, check out the game schedule here.