As the year winds to a close, two more Homer High School students have solidified their aspirations to play sports at the college level by signing National Letters of Intent.
Senior Adeline Berry has signed to swim at University of Alaska Fairbanks, and senior Anna Godfrey has signed to row at Oregon State University. Both described a unique recruitment process and some challenges that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic presented when it came to scouting colleges.
While some student athletes dream for years of continuing their spot at the collegiate level, Berry wasn’t sold on that idea until more recently. It was closer to her junior year that she made that decision, she said.
She’s been swimming for six years, and described the sport as something that always pushes her to strive for her best. Now, she’s headed off to be an Alaska Nanook while studying business administration.
Berry said the pandemic made it interesting to search out her college options for swimming. Some programs were unsure if they would even have a season next year due to funding cuts, she said. Using online resources and email exchanges, she was able to have dialogue with a number of schools to help make her decision.
Berry’s mother lives in Fairbanks, so she’s spent her life split between there and Homer, she explained. There was already a Fairbanks connection, and she even has a few friends currently on the UAF swim team who were angling for her to join them.
She also took the pandemic into consideration when making her choice. Berry said she thought about where she would want to be during the rest of this health crises — a place where she can get outside and still find enjoyment in life even if other aspects of life are being impacted.
“Since COVID hit, I was trying to think of, what’s a good place to be?” she said.
Being an outdoorsy person with connections to dog mushing, skiing and skijoring, Berry decided Fairbanks was a good fit.
She’s also excited about becoming a part of the swim team’s culture.
“I do like the coaches a lot, and I love the team dynamic,” Berry said. “They have a good connection.”
Of her time swimming for Homer, Berry noted the strong connections that have been forged between teammates, even those who aren’t necessarily close in age. Her particular age group, she said, has always been around either older swimmers or younger swimmers, and it’s been nice to see that connection between different age groups.
“They’ve always definitely pushed me to be my best,” Berry said of the Homer swim community.
Godfrey, who’s heading to Oregon to row on a Division I team, had a much different path to becoming a collegiate athlete. Homer has no rowing team (not a lot of high schools do) and it was never on her radar as a young high school student.
Godfrey said her original goals were to play basketball, and later run as part of the track and field team.
“I’ve always wanted to play a college sport,” she said.
After breaking her foot during her freshman season on Homer’s track and field team, that goal seemed pretty far away. Her foot was reconstructed, and she was told she might not be able to run again. She couldn’t play basketball anymore, either.
Godrey lifts at the Alaska Training Room gym, where the gym owner helped her get into rowing as an exercise and told her about Tayla Cabana, a Homer High grad who went on to row at the University of Alabama.
From there, Godfrey switched her profile on the Next College Student Athlete recruiting website over to rowing. Since rowing isn’t a popular high school sport, there aren’t the normal metrics for recruiters to go off of when looking for new team members.
“Rowing is really unique in the fact that they recruit a lot of kids out of sport,” Godfrey said.
One thing they do look at is height, as it relates to how long a rower’s stroke length will be. Godfrey is 6-feet 1-inch tall. It wasn’t long before schools started contacting her, she said.
Godfrey said she’s grateful for this opportunity to play a college sport at a Division I school with scholarships. Having her original goals taken away due to injury was “excruciatingly painful,” she said. Rowing has given her another shot.
She enjoys the sport because, not only is it physically challenging, but it includes a lot of mental components as well, she said.
“I’ve just been though a lot of excruciating injuries and surgeries, and so relative to where I’ve been, it’s half as bad as that,” she said.
Godfrey landed on Oregon State after getting offers from a handful of other schools. She has a family connection there, and other family members have attended that school as well.
What Godfrey really liked about the rowing program based on her tour of the school was the passion the coaching staff seem to have for the sport and their student athletes.
“The coach is super passionate, and just like, loves what she does and is super knowledgeable about it,” Godfrey said. “I just loved the way that she motivated the girls.”
Godfrey will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science with a focus on marine biology.
“I’m obviously very excited and just kind of thrilled about the opportunity I’ve been given,” she said. “I guess it just goes back to just being grateful, because I was so devastated when I broke my foot and my surgeon told me, hey, you might never be able to run again. And now here I am.”