ELK RAPIDS — In one whirlwind visit, Kendall Brown gained a new sport, college and roommate.
Brown had already verbally committed to Hope College to play basketball, when suddenly an offer from the University of Michigan popped up.
Not for basketball. Not even for a sport Brown had ever participated in before.
The Wolverines reached out to the 5-foot-11 Elk Rapids basketball and soccer standout for rowing.
“I was like, ‘How did you find me?’” Brown said.
Rowing coaches often scour recruiting sites for athletes in other sports — often in basketball and volleyball — since very few high schools have a varsity crew team. Michigan saw an old basketball profile of Brown’s and reached out.
“I kind of blew it off because I’m not a rower and I wasn’t super into it,” Brown said. “I let it all sink in. It was kind of overwhelming.”
Then she decided to take up the Wolverines on an official visit.
In the same brunch with coaches at Michigan’s academic advisory center, Brown listened to the rowing pitch. At that same brunch, she met Madelyn Moore of Saugatuck. The 5-foot-10 Moore ran into a similar conundrum after U-M made a rowing offer to the former three-sport prep star.
Brown decided to “take the leap” and give up basketball for the chance at being a Division 1 athlete. She’ll be roommates with Moore on the Ann Arbor campus, which could be more than a coincidence after the two hit the 1,000-point mark in basketball in the same week as seniors. Both can work their way into scholarships if they climb the team’s ladder to a varsity boat.
“My whole life, I’ve always invested my summers into basketball,” Brown said. “But I know not many people get this opportunity to play a Division 1 sport at Michigan. I went for it and don’t look back.”
Brown, who earned a 3.89 grade-point average for the Elks, played basketball since the second grade. She plans to major in communications in hopes of going into sports broadcasting.
In addition to starring for the Elks in basketball, she started for years at outside defender for the Elks’ successful soccer squad. Elk Rapids soccer coach Andrea Krakow said Brown’s determination can make her a success in whatever sport she plays.
“Initially, she had her heart set on basketball,” Krakow said. “She’s a great athlete. She’s so coachable. She’s committed to whatever she’s involved in.”