Transfer competes twice for GV, sets record
More than 7.6 percent of high school athletes have the ability to pursue their love for a sport at the collegiate level. The odds of a high school athlete playing two sports at two colleges are even less than that, but a recent Grand Valley State University transfer is doing it with style.
One year ago, sophomore Rebecka Anderson was pitching for the College of DuPage in Illinois. However, after deciding to move closer to her family in West Michigan, she decided to leave her softball career behind and attend GVSU.
“After a year of playing softball at the junior college level, I realized that it just wasn’t for me,” Anderson said. “The majority of my family lives in the West Michigan area and with Grand Valley being as good of an academic school as it is, I wanted to attend school here. Thankfully, it has all worked out for me.”
It wasn’t long after she stepped foot onto Allendale’s campus for the first time that she decided to compete once again, only in a different realm of collegiate athletics.
Although she had never been in a competitive atmosphere on the track before in her life, she sought out the Laker coaching staff with hopes of getting back on the playing field.
“I was in contact with coach Maag (a former assistant coach at GVSU) and he got my foot in the door to come onto the team here,” she said. “I’m really fortunate how everything worked out for me.”
Even though Anderson was new to the track scene, she was familiar with the sport. Both her father and brother had lineage in track and field, and former Olympic javelin thrower, Tom Pukstys, had previously trained Anderson before she came to GVSU.
“I guess you could say that the work has been put in well before I made it to Grand Valley,” she said. “I knew that the ability was always there for me. Grand Valley has given me the opportunity to showcase that.”
It didn’t take long for her to showcase that talent in a big way over the weekend at the Hilltopper Relays in Bowling Green, Ky.
Despite competing in just her second ever track competition, Anderson broke the GVSU javelin record with a distance of 45.97 meters. It seems the decision to leave softball for track and field is paying off.
“Her breaking the record in such a short period of time really is a testament to the amount of work that she has put in up to this point,” throws coach Rob Klenk said. “She came in under the radar, but now I don’t think that there will be a single person around the conference that wont know her name by the end of the season.”
When an athlete breaks a school record at a premier track and field program in only their second competition, heads turn. Whispers of the breakout athlete typically resonate around various track facilities, and that has certainly been the case in Allendale.
“Her work ethic and talent is second to none,” senior thrower Nathan Dekam said. “Whether she can continue to translate that to competition is going to be interesting to see. With her abilities, you really can’t put a ceiling on her potential. Watching her grow throughout her career at GVSU is going to be an enjoyment for many.”
Anderson and the No. 1 Laker women will split up to compete in a number of events this weekend, including the Al Owens Classic, which will take place inside the Kelly Family Sports Center on Friday and Saturday.