Griffin Rasche came to St. Ambrose to play tennis. She netted so much more.
Besides tennis, Rasche excelled in her coursework and being involved in other campus activities. Some of those include her job as a tennis manager and internships: one at KALA Radio on campus as a Senior Intern and the other at St. Paul Lutheran Church as their Communications Intern. She also led the largest non-profit organization on campus – Dance Marathon (DM) – as its Public Relations and Marketing Director.
"This year I worked 30+ hours combined with all my roles or jobs each week. All of these roles I enjoyed immensely," Rasche said. "One of the biggest accomplishments of my life was being able to crush the DM fundraising goal of $251,000, all for kiddos at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital."
As she prepares to graduate Saturday, May 12, with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism and Strategic Communication, Rasche will leave with a sense of personal achievement and an understanding of personal accountability.
"I'm fully responsible for everything that happens to me and my success is almost entirely dependent on myself," she said. "No one at college is going to force you to go to class or make sure you turn in your assignments on time. That's all up to you. From difficult courses to stress from balancing work, school, sports, and a social life, there will likely be times you feel like giving up. However, I learned what perseverance truly was."
Acing College and Tennis
Tennis was always going to be a part of Rasche's collegiate experience.
Her parents coached tennis for 28 years in Rasche's hometown of Camanche, Iowa, and her aunt coached her in tennis at Clinton High School. To round it out, Rasche's brother led the Ashford College men's team to national NAIA tournaments.
"I definitely come from a family deeply rooted in tennis, as well as Ambrosians," Rasche said. Both parents, a grandparent, and her aunt all attended St. Ambrose.
But Rasche didn't initially plan to follow her family to SAU after high school. That changed, however, when she had a chance encounter with SAU Tennis Coach Richard Blomgren.
Awaiting a spring break trip to Orlando, Florida, Rasche and her mother happened to talk to Coach Blomgren at the Cedar Rapids airport. Once Blomgren realized she played tennis, a recruiting conversation began.
"I always call this my 'God' moment. The verse of 'God has a plan for you' could not be more true in this situation, and I will be forever thankful because so many things had to fall into place for my coach and me to meet," Rasche said. "I was wearing a Clinton High School tennis sweatshirt, so an Ambrose alum motioned to Coach Blomgren to come talk to me, so he did. We talked about the tennis program at Ambrose, scholarship opportunities, and what my playing level/experience was. I felt really excited to visit campus after the encounter. I also met some of the people on the team and they all seemed very nice."
Senior Griffin Rasche
"Something I will never forget is the feeling after completing my last college tennis match," Rasche recalled. "Everyone else had completed their matches, so it was down to just me. At this time it was a tighter second set. I was frustrated, but I pushed on to finally win the match. I still can't shake the feeling of smashing that backhand crosscourt to win the match and the emotion that came over me when my team came over for a group hug."
Coming in as a freshman, Rasche played number one singles and doubles on the team and stayed number one in the lineup her entire four years.
"I have learned so much during my time here as a student-athlete," she said. "Juggling jobs, internships, classes, and extracurriculars on top of our practice and match schedule has made me grow as a person in more ways than one. I learned the meaning of time management, how teamwork is the way to succeed, how to do your best under pressure, and always give 110% of yourself."
Throughout her years on the tennis team, there have been a lot of memories made, especially with Coach Blomgren.
"Whether it's the spring break trips to Florida or the long, interesting car rides, coach is the highlight of many of my stories," Rasche said. "After practice, we had a match the next day against an undefeated team. He told us that even when you get down in the match, you just gotta look up into the blue sky and be thankful you're alive. Quite literally saying, ‘It's okay if you lose a couple points. Just remember to have fun. If you have to, look up into the blue sky, say what the heck, and move on.' That inspirational, yet funny quote will stick with me forever."
She takes the sport very seriously: Tennis has always been the main focus of her four years at Ambrose.
"Something I will never forget is the feeling after completing my last college tennis match," Rasche recalled. "Everyone else had completed their matches, so it was down to just me. At this time it was a tighter second set. I was frustrated, but I pushed on to finally win the match. I still can't shake the feeling of smashing that backhand crosscourt to win the match and the emotion that came over me when my team came over for a group hug. Then coach. Then family members of my teammates. The love and support I felt that day was indescribable – and I'm so happy that it ended on the best note with the best team I could've ever asked for."
Rasche's education and success were accomplished by networking with professors, hard work, perseverance, and dedication to the school.
"I am going to miss the people; I cannot stress enough that amazing part of St. Ambrose. People will hold open doors for you or randomly say hi to a stranger in passing. That's just how it is here," she said. "Luckily, I have become really close to many of my professors, and they have helped me tremendously in my four years here. I am beyond blessed because I would not be the person I am today without many people here."