Special to The Sun
As Oklahoma Christian Academy senior Courtney Payne sat at the signing table with her parents and coaches, signing the documents saying she will attend the University of Oklahoma to compete with the Sooners’ nationally respected rowing team, there was just one little unusual detail.
She had never rowed before. Ever.
That did not stop Payne as she signed with the program, cheered by family and OCA students in a ceremony on Thursday.
“I’m a little nervous,” Payne said. “It is new, but I think that I just need to work hard and I think I’m going to be great at it. I just need to work. OU is where I wanted to go for academics, becoming a champ and competing with a team is something I thought would be really great.”
In the initial letter, according to Payne’s father Dwayne, OU rowing coach Leeanne Crain wanted to bring in novice rowers with no experience, to be trained up in a way Crain and her staff wanted.
According to Payne’s coaches at OCA, OU will be getting a competitor known for her athleticism and work ethic.
“Courtney is a player that has improved with every year,” said Elzie Clark, OCA head women’s basketball coach. “Obviously she’s 6-foot-2, so she’s learned to use that and improved her athletic ability, that’s one thing they’ve noticed that at that size she can run, defend and block shots.”
“She works hard, and she encourages all the other girls as well, she’s a leader,” he said. “I think that is one of the largest things that really stuck out is how she will pick up the younger girls, guide them and stay with them after practice, that’s something coaches really look for.”
OCA principal and athletic director Gabriel Schmidt said that Payne will receive an academic scholarship, holding a 3.8 unweighted GPA or better at the private academy.