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2009 graduate working in Detroit

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune File Photo

Former Madera Coyote standout Katherine Grow puts down a kill for UC Santa Cruz during her final collegiate match against UC Merced in 2012. Grow was a Div. III Independent College Most Valuable Player in 2011. In this match, Grow faced off against former Madera South standout Valeria Martinez, who starred for UC Merced.


For the past seven years, former Madera Coyote volleyball standout Katherine Grow has been working in Detroit.

Working for a non-profit called the Community Education Commission, Grow works closely with the city and the mayor’s office to work with the schools as the operations coordinator.

“Everything we do is in between schools and making sure what the schools need, all things education except teaching,” she said. “There’s a couple of things that our organization does. The Detroit Schools Guide is my baby right now. We just relaunched the website. Detroit is a choice city in regards to school. You can go to your district school or to a charter school. Student population is split 50-50 with charter and district. The school guide is a transparent piece of information to help parents and families make decisions about what school to choose for their child. The website launched in the beginning of June. It’s a soft launch and we’ve been getting some feedback and spreading the word. Then, we’re going to go big.”

After graduating from Madera in 2009, Grow had an illustrious career at UC Santa Cruz where she was the Div. III Independent Colleges Most Valuable Player in 2011. She also earned Div. III All American and All-West Region honors before graduating in 2013. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2015. Grow was also the second recipient of the Madera F.A.N. Kenny Taylor Athlete of Integrity award.

“It’s exciting to be a small town girl in a big city,” she said.

After graduating for UCSC, Grow ventured to Detroit because of a program called Teach for America. From there, she has put down her roots.

“We (Grow and her fiancé) bought a house in Detroit,” she said. “We rehabbed the house. We tore out the walls, redid the electrical and plumbing. Detroit is like a little smaller big city. It’s not too big. I knew I was going to wind up in a big city.”

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the country, Grow hasn’t stopped working, although she had to find a way to separate work from home life while working from home.

“I haven’t stopped during the pandemic,” she said. “The first couple of weeks, there was no separation between working from home and being home. It was like work, work, work, eat dinner, work, go to bed. It was too much. Now, I figured out a system so it’s not too much. It’s been crazy.”

Although Grow has been busy working, she still finds the time to play volleyball. In fact, it’s a must for her to get a taste of competition.

“There is still volleyball,” she said. “I do some recreation volleyball. I finally found the competitive leagues out here. It took a while to get there. I’m playing women’s volleyball that is super competitive and really fun. I’m getting back to the volleyball I love. It’s been a good release from work. I play three or four nights a week. When I was working normal hours and we were still playing, that would be my hard stop. It was 6:30 and I had to go play in my volleyball league. It’s been good for the work-life balance. I realize I’m happier. I’m a competitive person and so it’s not so fun when you’re competing against friends. They want me to chill out. When I get to play rec volleyball, I get that out of my system so I’m like a normal person when I hang round other people.”

A year-and-a-half ago, Grow got engaged to her fiancé Alex, whom she met in college. They plan to marry Jan. 2, 2021 regardless of what the pandemic says.

“We were floormates,” she said. “We were really good friends. He is a little bit shorter than me. He’s a great guy and we’ve been together ever since. He proposed Christmas of 2018. If it turns into a Zoom wedding, it’s okay. If we have to put a cap on it, it’s okay. I’m not trying to stress about it now and get too worried.”

Grow visits her parents in Madera about twice a year since she graduated from UCSC, but doesn’t think she will be able to make the trip this summer.

She also has fun trying to explain the Central Valley to her friends in Michigan.

“Some of my friends don’t understand California,” she said. “They think California is beach town and coastal. I tell them our biggest store is Wal-Mart. They wonder where I’m from. My new thing is to give people a vision is to picture the middle of Michigan. It’s very similar. They are both agricultural and there’s not a lot going on. I like to joke that we rode horses or tractors to school.”


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