Drew Westford’s parents began teaching her at an early age to be competitive in everything she does.
“Competitive on the softball field, competitive on the basketball court, competitive in the classroom, even competitive as a friend,” the Ferndale High School senior said. “I want to be the best friend I can be.”
That drive helped land Westford an NCAA Division I scholarship offer to play softball for Fairfield, and Tuesday, she signed her national letter of intent with the Connecticut school.
“I’m very excited,” Westford said. “It had been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to play Division I softball. I’m beyond ecstatic.”
Westford said she chose the Stags over Division II, Division III and community college offers.
She said she caught the eye of Fairfield coach Julie Brzezinski at a recruiting tournament in Colorado two summers ago, and when Westford visited in February, she “fell in love with the campus, the school and the team.” She said even the small town reminded her of Fairhaven.
Westford, who is undecided on a major, also was impressed by the team’s mindset. The games weren’t the top priority for players, who ranked their education No. 1, as well as having a social life.
Brzezinski also told Westford she will enter as the No. 1 catcher on the team in 2018, meaning she should be able to play all four years in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“I love the team and all the girls,” Westford said. “They all have a great sense of humor – it’s a little different on the East Coast, but I like them, and I like their work ethic.”
Walker looking forward to life on the beach
Beach volleyball may not be a sport you’d think somebody from Western Washington would play, but Ferndale senior Whitney Walker can’t imagine doing anything else.
In fact, Walker decided not to follow through on a commitment to play indoor volleyball for WWU so she could sign a national letter of intent Tuesday to play the outdoor game at NCAA Division II Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“It’s really exciting for me,” said Walker, who is undecided on a major but said she might focus on becoming a teacher. “I’ve gotten a lot of questions asking if I’m nervous. Honestly, I’m excited to go there and play a sport I love.”
Walker, who helped the Golden Eagles place eighth at the Class 3A State Volleyball Tournament last weekend in Kennewick and was selected first-team All-Northwest Conference by the league’s coaches this fall, said she likes how the beach game allows her to have more touches and is easier on her bones and muscles.
She said she got into beach volleyball while at a camp at Grand Canyon University. Since then, she’s been working with University of Washington beach volleyball assistant coach Jen Baklenko at UW’s indoor beach court, nicknamed “the sandbox.” She’s also spent time playing at Alki Beach in Seattle and has traveled to California to play.
On the beach, Walker was part of a winning team at the world’s largest amateur beach volleyball tournament in Seaside, Ore., and has placed fifth at the national championships the past two years.
Texas A&M-Kingsville is starting its beach volleyball program in the spring, and Walker said the Javelinas are building a $7 million facility for the sport.