Brown swaps basketball for boats
Elk Rapids recent graduate Kendall Brown always planned on playing basketball at the college level. Brown finished her Elk hardwood career playing as a four-year varsity starter, a member of the Elk 1000 point club and a district championship under her belt. Brown led the team in most statistical categories each season, drawing the attention of several college basketball programs.
“I visited many schools, Denison University, Muhlenberg College, Hope College, and Grand Valley State University, to name a few,” Brown said.
Hope College in Holland was narrowed down as a primary choice, with a successful basketball program and offering a major in communications, with an eventual goal of sports broadcasting.
Then an email came to her basketball coach and father Mike Brown from the University of Michigan. “I told her I had gotten an email from U of M, and they were interested in her for the rowing team. Initially, it seemed odd, but we pursued it further,” Coach Brown said. The announcement came shortly afterwards.
“I have made my decision on college and I will be attending the University of Michigan,” Brown said. “I will not actually be playing college basketball, in fact, I will be rowing. Before you ask, no, I have never actually rowed. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I decided to go out on a limb and take a chance.”
The Michigan women’s rowing team is a dedicated sport at the university, it is not a club. The squad won its sixth Big Ten Championship and placed third at the NCAA Championships this spring.
“Kendall is exactly the type who we look for in our novice program,” said Dan Harrison, assistant coach University of Michigan Women’s Rowing team, and the coach of the novice program. “Our goal is to find athletes, and we teach them how to row. We need those that like being challenged, being pushed and want to compete for a Big 10 Championship. There are very few high schools that offer rowing, so we have to look for those with athletic ability that might be on the fence on where to go or what they want to do. I would say 60 percent of our rowers are walk-ons like this. For athletes like Kendall, they are able to fulfill a dream of attending Michigan, and be in a competitive college sport, although different than what they were known for in high school.”
Brown admits it was a hard choice to give up basketball. “It was a tough decision, but it’s been a dream of mine to attend U of M, so when this opportunity popped up, I knew I couldn’t pass it up,” Brown said.
There will be 20 members in the novice rowing program as the 2019-20 school year opens at the University of Michigan. It would not be a surprise to see a former Elk on the court become a Wolverine with oars.