Pursuit to Play: Thunderhawk makes Division I dreams a reality

Updated: November 17, 2020 10:44 PM
Created: November 16, 2020 05:30 PM

Last Wednesday, Grand Rapids senior Claire Walsh put pen to paper signing her National Letter of Intent to join the women’s rowing team at the University of Oklahoma.

"I remember watching signing day ceremonies in the past and thinking I want that to be me so bad. It felt so good to finally do it," said Walsh.

However, if you would have asked her a year ago what sport she wanted to pursue in college, it would have been volleyball.

"I had had some pretty serious interests from several Division I schools in the south, but then COVID-19 hit and the club season was cut short. I learned soon after that next year’s club season was going to be canceled as well," she explained

Walsh has been playing volleyball since she was eight years old. She’s a part of the Thunderhawks high school team and has been playing with the Minnesota North Volleyball Club for the past four years.

Once learning the club season was canceled, Walsh contacted the colleges that were interested in her.

"They said they wanted to see all of their recruits play live before committing them, but without me have a club season that wasn’t really possible," Walsh explained.

Instead of giving up, she kept both oars in the water and decided to try something new.

"I decided that since it was my dream to be a Division I athlete since I was a little kid, I was going to need to pursue another athletic avenue. I was introduced to rowing late this spring and I really liked it. I thought it was a great fit for my athleticism," she said.

Now, this soon to be Sooner plans to become a rower, study business, and enjoy some warmer weather.

"I’m kind of excited to reinvent myself because I’ve been known as a volleyball player my whole life, because that was everything I did. I'm just really excited to see where rowing could take me where volleyball couldn’t," she added.

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