Northwestern grad switches sport and school
By: By Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune, Superior Telegram
Anna Morgan already had registered for classes at UW-Eau Claire and been assigned a roommate at the campus dorm when her college life turned upside down earlier this month.
Morgan, a 2010 Northwestern High School graduate, committed to play basketball for the Blugolds in mid-April and played in a summer league with her future teammates. She was set to forgo volleyball for at least a year.
That was until her mother received a call out of the blue Aug. 2 from a Chicago State assistant volleyball coach. Shakeila Castile-Jones called Cindy Morgan to say the Cougars were very interested in her daughter.
“The first phone call, she said they were willing to give a 75 percent scholarship,” Cindy recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll call Anna, give her the information and she’ll get back to you.’ Less than five minutes later, (Castile-Jones) called back and said they were willing to offer a 100 percent scholarship. It was that quick.”
Anna was visiting her boyfriend’s family in Greenville, S.C., and unable to answer her phone.
“We were out trout fishing and I didn’t have my phone on me,” she said. “When I finally got service, I had four messages from mom saying, ‘Call me, call me.’”
Anna learned she had two days to make up her mind. When other nonscholarship colleges came calling earlier in the summer, Morgan told them she already had a school. But the idea of a full scholarship changed her thinking.
“I had already committed to (Division III) Eau Claire and I didn’t want to go back on my word, but when Chicago State said they would give me a full ride I definitely thought about it,” she said.
Two days later, she called Chicago State back to accept the Division I program’s offer.
“She had a great resume and was what we were looking for,” said first-year coach Bob Eskew, who found the 5-foot-11 outside/middle hitter on the website berecruited.com. “We needed a big player who could hit hard and was very mobile, and she’s all of those. She’s wonderful.”
Eskew said Morgan will start immediately, especially since Chicago State’s depth is hampered after losing one player to a broken ankle, another to eligibility problems and another to family medical problems.
“Our numbers were down and we really needed someone badly,” said Eskew, who spent the previous 34 years as a high school coach.
Morgan was a three-sport star at Northwestern, receiving 11 All-Heart O’North Conference selections in volleyball, basketball and softball (missing out only in softball as a sophomore due to injury), and accumulated a 3.5 grade-point average.
Morgan and her parents traveled to the 7,500-student campus on the South Side last weekend and Monday marked her first day back on a volleyball court since last season.
“I was a little rusty, but (it’s) nothing that time won’t heal,” she said.
Eskew was impressed.
“She’s much more athletic than we thought she’d be,” he said. “We thought she’d be skilled, but we had no idea how athletic she was.”
That athleticism first was on display when Morgan finished in the top four nationally in the 2005 NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition and competed during halftime of an AFC playoff game between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Years later she punted on Eau Claire, passed on volleyball and hopes her new school is a kick.