BOONE — Many times, prep student-athletes choose a college because of the coaches who recruit them.
Watauga’s standout volleyball player Rebekah Farthing is no different. The junior committed to Appalachian State at the start of the 2018 season largely because of App State assistant coaches Chad Willis and Taylor Sherwin.
But circumstances changed. Willis was hired to be the head coach at Georgia Southern and took Sherwin with him.
Farthing decided April 9 to change her mind and be a member of the 2020 Georgia Southern recruiting class. She said getting a chance to play for Willis and Sherwin was a big reason why. The two helped recruit her to go to Appalachian State and she felt comfortable with them during that time.
When the Willis and Sherwin left to go to Georgia Southern, Farthing decided that was where she wanted to pay collegiately.
“I really liked them and they helped recruit me when I went to App,” Farthing said. “They were supporting me, so I changed my mind.”
Farthing said she also liked the town of Statesboro, Ga., home to Georgia Southern. She liked the community feel she got, which is similar to the feeling she has for Boone. Farthing said she got along well with her future teammates, which made her feel welcome.
“When I went down there, there was something about the campus that I just loved,” Farthing said. “Everybody knows each other there. They all love all the Georgia Southern sporting events and I met the team and fell in love with them. They are amazing and they welcomed me.”
Farthing did not reach her decision lightly. She knows Appalachian State coach Matt Ginipro and the Mountaineers’ roster well. The chance to take on something new, such as a different college town and program, were other reasons why she changed her mind.
Farthing’s older sister Sydney plays on the Appalachian State back line and will be a senior this fall, which made Rebekah’s decision more difficult.
Farthing said that Statesboro is a long way from Boone, but she said Willis and Sherwin reassured her that they would be there for her.
“I was very torn for a long time, because of course I love Boone,” she said. “It’s my hometown. All my friends live here. My sister goes to App. I knew all the (App players) because of her and I know the coaches really well. I think I didn’t want to just be comfortable. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and explore something else.”
Farthing also said that Ginipro was gracious with Farthing and her decision to change programs.
“He knows that Chad is a good coach and he supported what I did,” Farthing said. “He said he was bummed because obviously he wanted me to go to App, but he understood.”
Farthing was recruited to play on the back line for the Mountaineers, just like Sydney. Rebekah said she could see some time on the Georgia Southern front and back lines.
Both lines fit her skills. Farthing led Watauga offensively with 356 kills and landed 46.1 percent of her kill attempts. Farthing also finished with 44 total blocks, including eight solo stops.
Defensively, Farthing was second on the Pioneers with 198 digs. She also finished with 34 service aces, and out of 255 serves, Farthing had just 21 errors.
“Actually, I would be a utility player,” Farthing said. “I could see some front row. It just depends. I wouldn’t necessarily be a back-row player like at App, but maybe hit some. I’d be just where they would need me.”
Farthing, the current Northwestern Conference Player of the Year, led Watauga to a 25-1 overall record and a berth in the fourth round of the state 3-A playoffs. Watauga won its fourth-straight NWC championship and has won 43 straight NWC matches.
Farthing has a chance to do something unique this season when her sister Caroline becomes a freshman in the program. Caroline Farthing has helped Parkway’s middle school program win the last two county championships.
Rebekah Farthing still has the end of the Watauga track and field to finish, and a summer volleyball season before her senior season at Watauga.