Freshmen Twin Sisters Grace And Hope Jenkins Excel For UConn
UConn freshman Grace Jenkins enjoys reading self-help books. And now over one month into her first college softball season, it seems like those books are helping her dominate on the field.
The catcher, who described herself as “kind of a nerd,” enjoys reading in her spare time and last finished Amy Morin’s 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. The Folsom, Calif. native has already picked up Big East honors multiple times in the young season.
In addition to her studious nature, central to her success on the field is her twin sister and teammate, Hope.
“I give a lot of credit to my sister for my success on the field,” said Grace, who is the older twin by one minute. “Growing up, we kind of held each other accountable, and I would not be where I am today without her.”
For many young players, it can be challenging to find someone to practice with, but that was never an issue for the Jenkins sisters. The twins were a perfect practicing combo, as Hope is a pitcher and Grace is a catcher.
“A lot of people don't have access to someone who's willing to practice with them all the time,” Grace said. “But, fortunately, I did.”
After excelling in both youth swimming and softball, the twins made the decision to focus exclusively on softball. And both sisters would have incredible careers at St. Francis Catholic High School in northern California.
So when it came time to begin the college recruiting process, they acknowledged that they could end up at different places.
“I remember junior year we were kind of like, 'oh, if we want to go our separate ways, we'll kind of let it happen,'” Grace recalled.
But after making that recognition, it just didn’t feel right.
“I think shortly into the recruiting process, we really realized that we didn't want to play without each other,” the left-handed catcher added. “I remember I went to a college camp without her for the first time and it felt weird. It felt like I wasn't myself.”
Coach Laura Valentino’s UConn team was the right fit for the twins, and in year one, both are major players on an insurgent Huskies team.
“Coach V made us both feel very wanted at UConn,” Hope said. “We also just loved the campus, it felt like home. A lot of other schools felt more like a business deal, but we were treated as humans at UConn.”
Now in their freshman year, Hope has picked up wins in the circle against two Power Five opponents, Georgia Tech and Indiana, and Grace has been a force to be reckoned with at the plate. She hit two home runs in a 13-1 win over Bowling Green earlier in the season.
Grace credits mentorship from her coaches and older teammates as enabling her success thus far.
She specifically mentioned Valentino and junior catcher Lauren Benson as helping her improve at the defensive side of the game.
“I think that they have taught me a lot about my role as a catcher and leadership-wise,” Grace said. “And I learned early on in the fall season how important it is to communicate.”
Grace is humble and grateful for her opportunity and success in Storrs, Conn., and is excited for her future on the field and beyond—whether as a prosecuting attorney in the Federal Bureau of Investigations or maybe in coaching.
Hope wants to pursue a career as a firefighter like her father and brother.
“I love softball, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to play at UConn and to represent the school,” Hope said. “I know that it's been a short journey so far, but I'm excited to see what I can do here in the next four years, and what UConn softball can do in the next four years.”