One thousand, one hundred sixty-six miles is a long way from home. That is the one thing freshman Selina Vickery and junior Noah McGowan have in common: They are both Ohio State athletes from the Houston, Texas area adjusting to life in Columbus. Other than that, their stories could not be more different.
But Vickery, a midfielder from Friendswood, Texas, was not on the Buckeyes’ recruiting radar, said OSU women’s soccer coach Lori Walker.
“Selina kind of recruited us,” Walker said. “I know her club coach from previous relationships and experiences. They kind of reached out to us and said that she had decided to come to Ohio State. We really didn’t know her and hadn’t seen her. We didn’t have a chance to see her until she was here on campus.”
Vickery ended up being the only freshman walk-on to make the team this fall. However, she didn’t receive much playing time in the regular season. Vickery played 38 minutes and had one shot on goal this season. Despite the lack of playing time, Walker is very aware of the effort that Vickery put in to make this team.
“I think it’s a very difficult position to be in, you know, as far as not having been included in the class,” Walker said. “I thought she did a great job of including herself and getting to know the team as quickly as possible. She is a very technical player and she plays without fear, which is great. She came into a space where everybody knew each other and she really had to insert herself.”
As for McGowan, he already had some experience under his belt. The Houston native spent two years at McLennan Junior College in Waco, Texas, before signing with OSU in late October of last year. With the amount of players the Buckeyes lost to the MLB Draft, McGowan and OSU were a perfect match.
“They knew that they were going to lose some bats in the lineup,” he said. “They knew I could hit for power and hit in the middle of the order, and that I could play good defense and play multiple positions. They knew I’d be good for them, just like I knew they’d be good for me.”
Expecting to be the starting second baseman with a prominent place in the middle of the batting order, McGowan was thrust into a major leadership position as soon as he got on campus. That was the selling point when OSU baseball coach Greg Beals was recruiting him.
“The closer for us, though, in recruiting Noah McGowan, is how his coaches at McLennan spoke about Noah as a teammate, as a leader,” Beals said. “The type of young man he is. They had nothing but strong and positive words to say about Noah and about his character.”
Going into a new program in a new state expecting to be one of the leaders on this young team is a daunting task. However, McGowan seems to be up for it.
“It’s hard to get up and have to just go,” McGowan said. “You don’t really ever get to see these people. I’ll get to see them for Christmas break but, even then, it’s not going to be like if I lived at home. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I’m happy with the decision I made.”
For Vickery, this transition was more than just about the distance from home. It was about the size of the program in general. However, she has had help along the way to make her a part of the soccer family.
“There has been a big culture shock,” Vickery said. “I come from a small town and this is such a huge environment, but everyone has been super supportive and it’s been a much smoother transition than I expected. The seniors were very welcoming and they brought me into the family.”