By Josh Brown
CASSTOWN — Karson Mahaney’s senior season hasn’t gone the way she expected, the way she wanted it to.
But another unexpected opportunity presented itself — and turned the year around for the better.
After tearing her ACL in late July before her senior year began, Mahaney, a three-sport athlete for the Miami East Vikings, was forced to miss both volleyball and girls basketball season leading up to the upcoming track and field season in the spring. But she still drew the attention of a Division I college program — the Eastern Michigan rowing team — and recently committed to attend in the fall and add a fourth sports to her repertoire.
And the timing couldn’t have been better.
“He (Eastern Michigan assistant coach Michael Bailey) actually emailed me the day after I tore my ACL,” Mahaney said. “I caught their interest. He saw my volleyball recruiting tape online. He’s good at finding three-sport athletes like me, with my physical build, and turning them into rowers.
“I had a friend in my same situation, same build, and the same coach stopped her. I knew it’s happened before, so I knew it was a possibility. It’s just a new chance and a new opportunity, and I’m excited about it.”
And Mahaney likes a new challenge.
Her 6-foot-plus, strong build made her a natural middle hitter in volleyball and post player in girls basketball. Early in her high school career, she tried out track and field for the first time and became a solid thrower for the Vikings. Last year, she was one place away from qualifying for the regional tournament in the shot put, placing fifth at the district meet with a throw of 32-2.75, as well as placing sixth in the discus with a throw of 102-8.
“I started track for the first time my freshman year,” Mahaney said. “It was a new thing, and I liked new challenges.”
And Eastern Michigan is the perfect place for the latest.
Most of the Eagles’ athletic programs compete in the Mid-American Conference, but the rowing team competes in the Colonial Athletic Association, where it finished fourth at the league championships in May of 2015.
“I visited the school in January. I loved the campus … even though it was covered in snow at the time,” Mahaney said with a laugh. “I loved all the girls on the team, too. Everyone is really nice, and the living situation is neat. All the girls on the team are living together. It’s just really cool. I just liked all the people there so much.”
And that kind of environment seems like just what a new student going to college for the first time needs.
“I’m glad I have an immediate group of girls that I like to hang out with right away,” Mahaney said. “It’ll make college a lot less stressful.”
As for beyond college, Mahaney has a plan for that, too.
“Eventually I want to go into physical therapy,” she said. “I want to maybe major in athletic training or exercise science.”
In the immediate future, though, Mahaney will enjoy her unexpected — but welcome — opportunity.
“I still like new challenges,” she said. “I know nothing about rowing, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.