CEDAR RAPIDS - Through most of her high school athletic career, Anamosa senior Grace Lubben hadn’t really considered playing sports at the collegiate level.
Merely reading those words might come as a huge surprise to most who have watched Lubben play at an elite level on the softball field, basketball and volleyball courts as well as on the track for the Raiders. Lubben, a four-sport star and gifted natural athlete was ready to graduate from Anamosa High School next spring and head straight to Ames next fall where she planned on working towards a degree in veterinary science at Iowa State University.
Then, her longtime plans quickly began to change.
“That’s what I was going to do. It was all set. I was going to graduate from Anamosa and then go straight to Iowa State,” said Lubben, who will now take a slight detour from those thoughtfully laid out plans after signing on the dotted line Thursday, Nov. 19, committing to play collegiate softball with the perennially powerful Kirkwood Community College program.
“Once I got to know the coaches at Kirkwood I just fell in love with the program. Coach Frese is super-awesome and the environment felt so comfortable, just like high school. I decided this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up and I wanted to take advantage of being able to continue playing the sport I love so much.”
Lubben, a standout in everything she’s done at Anamosa, has a passion for softball that is unmatched by any other sport however.
“Softball has always been my favorite sport,” she said. “If you’re going to play sports in college, you better love it or else it’s just work. I have always loved softball, so for me to go to Kirkwood and be a part of this great program and also get the things taken care of academically that I need to get taken care of, I can play here for two years and then still head to Iowa State.
“Basically, it’s the best of both worlds.”
Lubben’s high school coach knows Kirkwood is getting one of the best players in the state of Iowa.
“Grace is a five-tool player with a lot of speed and power offensively who can also lay down a bunt when she has to,” said Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub. “At the plate, she’s just tough to defend, and in the field, she can cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Kirkwood is getting a very good softball player who is an even better young lady.”
Lubben was phenomenal once again in 2020, helping the Anamosa softball team to the brink of the state tournament for a second straight summer by hitting .460 with team-best numbers in home runs (5), triples (4), RBIs (18) and slugging percentage (.980) in earning second-team All-State honors as a junior.
“Grace is going to be able to help Kirkwood not only with her bat, but with her ability to play defense at the highest level,” Holub said. “She can chase down just about every ball in the outfield. At the plate any hit she gets is usually an automatic triple with her speed. She can change the game in so many ways.”
It was that rare combination of power and speed that drew the Kirkwood coaches to Lubben, though former Raider superstar and current Eagle sophomore Jessie Frasher played a hand in getting the two parties together as well.
“Jessie helped get my name in the coach’s ears at Kirkwood,” Lubben said. “She let them know what kind of player I am and how I could help the program, and then everything just kind of came together. I saw how much fun Jessie was having at Kirkwood, I just decided I wanted to be a part of that, too.”
Kirkwood wasn’t the only collegiate program interested in Lubben’s softball services, as Loras, Simpson, Coe and Marshalltown Community College, just to name a few, had also been in contact.
“I just had my heart set on going to Iowa State that wasn’t really looking at those smaller schools,” Lubben said. “I wanted to go somewhere I could get things started towards becoming a vet, and other than jumping right in at Iowa State, Kirkwood was it.”
Kirkwood is annually one of the best junior college softball programs in the entire country, making the Eagle roster one of the toughest to crack. It’s that challenge Lubben is looking forward to when she joins the program in the fall of 2021.
“My high school coaches have prepared me for this moment,” she said. “I’m ready and I’m going to keep working hard and do whatever I can to help the Kirkwood softball team. It’s a great program and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
After her two-year stint with the Eagles, could Lubben continue her collegiate softball career once she gets to Ames?
“My parents want me to look at playing at Iowa State once I get there in a couple of years,” she said. “I was on their recruitment list of players they were looking at, but we’ll have to see how things play out. Right now, I’m just happy to be an Eagle, and can’t wait to get started.”