The 20-year-old member of the Holy Cross women’s crew team who was killed Wednesday when a team van crashed in Florida was an Uxbridge native who set multiple rowing records.
Holy Cross officials identified the student as Grace Rett. Her Facebook page said she was a Holy Cross sophomore who graduated in 2018 from Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, Connecticut.
In a statement, Rett’s family said, “Words cannot express how utterly heartbroken we are at the loss of our beloved Grace.”
“A warm-hearted, kind, and gifted young woman, Grace lived every second of every day with a contagiously positive spirit that enriched the lives of everyone around her,” said the family.
Marianapolis, where Rett went to high school, said that she had “made a tremendous and lasting impact on our community over her four years in all arenas: academics, athletics, arts, and campus ministry.”
“Grace and the entire Rett family remain in our prayers,” said the school in a statement.
Ciara Wells, a friend of Rett's who attended Marianapolis with her, said in an e-mail that Rett was "such a kind and caring person who always knew how to put a smile on your face."
Wells, who managed girls varsity basketball at the school while Rett played, said she was devastated by her friend's death.
“We also did rowing for a season together and she always pushed me to do my best,” she said in the e-mail. “Rowing was her life, she was always so dedicated to it and so hardworking, taking ‘student-athlete’ to its fullest potential.”
Her biography on the Holy Cross women’s crew website detailed her record-setting feats in high school.
“Rowed to consecutive undefeated home records in the spring season" at Marianapolis, the bio said. “As a freshman, set and holds the 2,000 meters erg record and 6,000 meters erg record at Marianapolis.” Erg records are set by rowing on an indoor rowing machine.
She was studying English and psychology at Holy Cross and is survived by her parents, Christopher and Mary Jo Rett, and her sister, Brianne, according to her biography.
Marcus Blossom, the athletics director for Holy Cross, said in a Wednesday statement that “Everyone who knew Grace was touched by her warm heart, tenacious work ethic and inspirational drive.”
“Our entire Holy Cross community is mourning today,” he said.
Marianapolis posted an article to its website when Rett committed as a senior to row at Holy Cross. The story noted that Rett was “the first Marianapolis student to row at the collegiate level.”
Rett said in the article that during her freshman year of high school, "We only had two boats, one girls and one boys. Now we have six. Watching the program grow throughout my time here has been really cool. Being the first rower from Marianapolis to row at the collegiate level is really special for me because I can help promote the Marianapolis crew program for those who come after me and give back to the program that has given me so much.”
The article also quoted her high school coach, Sean Murphy, who said Rett "has become one of the strongest assets of our program. She has an undeniable and tenacious passion for rowing. She challenges her fellow oarsmen to push themselves to faster times and sounder technique every day. Grace is the strongest girls’ rower we have ever had at Marianapolis, and this is predominantly the result of her own personal drive.”
Regarding her record-setting performances at Marianapolis, the article said Rett “set and continues to hold the girls’ program 2k and 6k erg time records (7:37.5 and 25:18.5 respectively) and was integral in the program’s first wins in her sophomore year.”
In December 2019, Marianapolis celebrated another indoor rowing record that Rett had achieved at Holy Cross.
“She did it! Grace Rett ’18 broke the world record for the Concept 2 longest continual row in 62 hours 3 seconds,” the school posted to Facebook. “She rowed 382,293 meters (237.55 miles) Congratulations Grace!”
Last season at Holy Cross, she was named to the Patriot League honor roll and competed in two races in the varsity eight boat, six races in the second varsity eight boat, and one race in the varsity four boat, according to her college biography.