Life sometimes take you in funny directions. Just ask Genoa seniors Alexa Ansell and Rachel Brown.
Ansell is the Comets' volleyball standout who was this year's Suburban Lakes League and district player of the year. Brown was this year's Toledo Junior Golf Association Player of the Year and is a four-time district qualifier.
They are great athletes, terrific students and best friends. And, they're both going to Northern Kentucky University on athletic scholarships (Division II) next fall.
Ansell and Brown signed letters-of-intent to compete at NKU on Nov. 20.
"She is pretty much my best friend, and I was really excited when she told me," Ansell said. "I didn't want to push it on her to go there. When she went, she fell in love with it. I was excited to have my best friend go to school with me. It's nice that we crossed paths at Northern Kentucky again."
Said Brown of Ansell, "We're really good friends. She's passionate about volleyball. We didn't look at any of the same schools. We wanted to do what was best. It just happened that we ended up at the same schools. We would tell each other which colleges we were visiting but we never made many comments about them. We kept our separate college searches between us and our families."
Brown, who played on Genoa's boys golf team for three years, was a first-team all-district player as a senior. She had a 39.37 stroke average for nine holes in the Northwest Ohio Golf League and tied the Genoa school record for nine holes twice, shooting a 36.
Brown twice shot 35 in the NWOGL, at Thunderbird Hills and at South Toledo. She is a member if National Honor Society (3.6 GPA) and was Genoa's homecoming queen this fall.
Golf golf coach Tom Pickerel said the 5-3 Brown is "a very outstanding young lady and a very gifted student in the classroom, too."
Brown joins Melissa Reeder as the only two Genoa girls to earn college golf scholarships. Reeder (2002) played at Bowling Green State University.
"In my years of coaching, I don't think I've had too many people who were more dedicated to the game than Rachel," Pickerel said. "She was willing to work at the game in the offseason and she had a commitment to play summer junior tournaments. She loves to play."
Brown's, father, Al, was a volunteer assistant at Genoa and took her to several matches this season. Her grandfather, Jim Schimming, introduced her to golf when she was very young.
"He bought me plastic golf clubs and I played in his backyard when I was 4, and it just progressed from there," Brown said. "I had my first golf lesson when I was 7. When I was younger everyone told me I had a good swing. Every year I set goals for myself and I usually met them. It was like a yearly progression."
Brown also took golf lessons from Highland Meadows pro Nick Myers the past two years.
"He taught me to have more confidence and be confident playing with what I had that day, and to be more aggressive," she said. "I took that probably more into this season. I was more mentally ready for the game this year. I had a good year. I really wanted to go to state. It's been one of my goals the past couple years, but I'm happy with what I've accomplished."
Brown thanked her family for supporting her and said she chose Northern Kentucky, which is about a four-hour drive from Genoa, "because it was a school that had pre-med and had a very good women's golf team. I really liked the campus."
Brown said her long-team goal is to become a detematologist.
NKU is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The women's golf team won the 2008 GLVC championship and placed fifth at the 2008 NCAA East Regional.
Ansell, who is 5-10 and has a 3.6 GPA, started on the Comets' volleyball team since her sophomore year as a middle hitter and outside hitter. She was named first-team all-league and all-district as a junior and senior and holds the school record for season (273) and career kills (548) and career blocks.
"As a player she works extremely hard," Genoa volleyball coach Nick Woodall said. "I pulled her up as a sophomore on varsity and she jumped high, but she needed a little work on her technique. She put the work in every single day. She was captain material through and through.
he's really quick and athletic and is an outstanding student, a very mature kid to talk to."
Ansell said she also considered playing volleyball at George Mason University and Niagra University, but chose Northern Kentucky "because I really fit well into their offense. They run a quick-tempo offense and I fit well - and I got a full ride. That was my biggest offer."
She said NKU volleyball coach Carlos Chia offered her a full scholarship in April.
"I was at practice and my club director (Jodi Schramm) pulled me aside and told me I was being offered a full ride from Northern, and to give the coach a call," Ansell said. "I called them and my full ride was offered and I decided two weeks later when went on a visit. I committed on my visit. I fell in love with the campus."
Ansell plans to major in pre-pharmacy.
"I like chemistry and the science field," she said, "so that was just the direction I was going in."
NKU's volleyball program has had 14 straight 20-win seasons, and Ansell expects to play as a freshman.
"I am replacing a two-time All-American at right side next year," she said.
Genoa Athletic Director Rick Briggle said of Ansell and Brown, "We are very proud of both girls, as scholars and athletes, and they have been positive role models for our programs here."