Grace Abdoo just started the most hectic and important 12 months of her young life, and the Long Beach Poly High junior wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like being busy,” Abdoo said. “I think it builds character as a person.”
Abdoo is part of the PACE academic academy at Poly, and the junior year is the most important in PACE — full of standardized testing and college applications. The talented libero also is hoping to play a major role with the Poly girls’ volleyball team this season after winning a California Beach Volleyball Association youth tournament last month. Abdoo was even in Detroit last week for the Junior Olympics with her club team.
“I’ve been able to grow a lot because I’m part of a lot of different programs,” Abdoo said. “It keeps me focused, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Born and raised in Long Beach, Abdoo grew up following her older sisters Hannah and Olivia around to their many sports and activities like volleyball, softball and dance. Abdoo tried it all, but quickly fell in love with volleyball.
“The second I started playing volleyball, it became my favorite,’ Abdoo said. “I enjoyed doing different things with it. There’s a lot of different aspects from defense to offense. Also, it wasn’t something a lot of people did at my age, and I liked that.”
Abdoo started taking volleyball more seriously at the age of 12 when she joined a club and went to her first Junior Olympics. She has qualified for that tournament every year since then as a valuable defensive piece. Abdoo won an All-City championship at Rogers Middle School, and then chose to attend Poly like her sisters.
“I always wanted to go to Poly,” Abdoo said. “I really like having the challenge of PACE, and the diversity on campus.”
After making the junior varsity team as a freshman at Poly, Abdoo was a support player on the varsity squad as a sophomore last season. However, she said she’s falling more in love with beach volleyball, and that’s where she’s had great guidance. Abdoo has been coached by Butch May for years, and trained with his daughter and Olympic golf medalist Misty May-Treanor when she was in eighth grade.
“It was super awesome,” Abdoo said of learning from her beach volleyball idol. “I grew a lot as a player, both mentally and physically, while working with Misty. She’s such a kind person, and she cares about how everyone develops. There are a lot of different skill levels that come to her, but she makes sure everyone gained as much as they could.”
Abdoo has played in many beach volleyball tournaments with many different partners, but she thinks she has a bright future with Kamyrn Parsonage from Los Alamitos High. The duo won the U16 girls’ division of the California Beach Volleyball Association youth tournament tournament late last month at Granada Beach.
“I like the beach game a lot because you’re a lot more physically involved,” Abdoo said. “You’re not necessarily coached 24/7 and it’s like you and your partner are your own thing.”
That is very similar to the demands of the PACE program where students are expected to juggle a college-esque course load.
“It really is a testament to Grace’s fortitude to keep up with her school work and practices for indoor and beach volleyball,” Grace’s mom, Fran Abdoo, said.
Abdoo said math is currently her favorite subject, and she plans on studying accounting.
“It is pretty hard, I have to say,” Abdoo said. “It’s just time management, but it is all manageable.”