Senior Feature: Grace Socha
Oct. 19, 2011
by: Michael Stagno, Auburn media relations
When Grace Socha was born in Glenville, N.Y., her parents told her that she would someday find the South. She has been riding horses since she was 3-years-old and when she was 9-years-old, she and her sisters got their first horse, Cocoa Puff. Seeing how much work and dedication it would take to become great at her sport was motivation enough in figuring out that equestrian would be the sport for her.
"I've always loved the South," Socha said. "When I was younger, my parents said I had a southern accent, so touring the South for horse shows and moving to Auburn was an easy transition."
Socha has found a family away from her family in her teammates and coaches. She says that the team is unique in that people come from all over the United States, some as far away as she is. She feels it is not only nice to have that in common, but that the team is always so close and they keep each other company. That type of team camaraderie makes it easy, but when she can, she likes to get home to New York.
"I always look forward to seeing my family," Socha said. "My parents travel, but I have two older sisters, two nieces, a nephew and my grandparents, so I love to get home when I can."
Socha and her mother are extremely close. She credits her mother with being a vital lifeline. She points out that her mother is her secretary, travel agent and biggest fan.
"My mother is amazing," Socha said. "She's always supportive and she helps me with everything. She's always there for me whenever I need her and she never allows me to let up, not for one minute. That's exactly what I need."
Socha holds many fond moments close to her heart in regards to her family. She remembers riding and sometimes driving with her father in his truck and says that the family get-togethers they have at the lake on her parents' boat are some of the best times she has ever had.
Socha has two older sisters and is already an aunt of three in Ruby, Elke and Iver. That requires a lot of responsibility considering she juggles school and equestrian.
"Every time I get home those kids have gotten bigger," Socha said. "I don't feel like an aunt, but when I see them, I realize that I am. Those kids are a huge part of me. I babysit for them and play with them. It's cool to have someone call me, `Aunt Grace'."
Socha takes nothing for granted and likes to live her life by the saying, "In life, nothing ever comes easy." She fully believes in the motto and lives her life according to it every day. Prior to Auburn, she was the 2007 East Coast Junior Hunter Finals Champion and was also the recipient of the 2006 Sharon Lee Steffee Sportsmanship Award. Since arriving at Auburn, she has been a staple for the Hunt Seat team. She has won various MVP honors for Equitation, including MVP of Equitation Over Fences at the VENCs and also earned All-American honors for the 2010-11 season, the first year that the sport has recognized All-Americans.
"It was a great honor," Socha said. "I was really surprised. I worked really hard all season long and it was nice to get recognition. Though winning the Overall National Championship was more important because we did it as a team. The MVP and the All-American honors were nice, but achieving what we did as a team last season was the greatest honor of all."
Socha is majoring in Health Promotion and upon completion of her undergraduate degree she plans on pursuing a master's degree. She wants to work in the health industry and has aspirations of being a physician assistant.
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