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Scholar Athlete: Morace balances art of painting with art of excelling in classroom

brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat Gabrielle Morace is a sophomore at Vidalia High School, a member of the cheerleading team and plays second base for the softball team. Morace, who has a 4.0 GPA, said she likes to paint in  her free time.
brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat
Gabrielle Morace is a sophomore at Vidalia High School, a member of the cheerleading team and plays second base for the softball team.
Morace, who has a 4.0 GPA, said she likes to paint in her free time.

vidalia — Gabrielle Morace is a student-athlete who enjoys various art forms.

The art of excelling in the classroom is her most important, the art of base running and connecting at the plate on the softball field is the most enjoyable and the art of painting colorful abstract is her passion.

“I paint a lot,” Morace said. “I haven’t had any classes or anything, but I’ve sold a lot of my paintings.”

Morace said her stepmother Mary Waller, who is a counselor at Vidalia High School, took her to a paint party at Sun, Moon & Stars in downtown Natchez a few years ago. That’s where the 15-year-old’s fascination with painting grew, which inspired another paint party for her next birthday.

“We had a party for my birthday, and I’ve just been painting since then,” Morace said.

Morace, who has a 4.0 GPA, plays second base for the Vidalia softball team and is a cheerleader for the Vikings. Balancing extracurricular activities with her coursework can get hectic, she admitted.

“It’s difficult sometimes,” Morace said. “Basketball season runs into softball season, so I’ll be running from practice to practice or practice to game or game to practice.”

Though she loves playing softball, Morace said her studies come first.

“That’s what matters to me,” Morace said. “Success in school would get me farther than success in athletics. They always tell us that we’re students first and athletes second.”

Vidalia softball coach Gary Paul Parnham said there are certain athletes you don’t have to worry with in the classroom, and Morace is one of them.

“She’s been like that from the get-go,” Parnham said. “School is always going to come first for her.”

Morace said her father Mathus Waller and mother Katrina Tarver have always inspired her to concentrate on academics, and her stepmom, Mary, has been a positive role model in her life.

“She means a lot to me,” Morace said. “She’s a positive influence even when I’m down.”

Parnham said even though Morace is a sophomore, she’s played in five games so far this season in pinch-hitting roles and pinch-running situations.

“She’s going to be a great ball player by the time she gets out of here,” Parnham said. “She got a little playing time as a freshman last year, mainly as a base runner.”

Morace hopes to attend LSU and major in anesthesiology.