Watauga standouts

Watauga standouts Brooke Byrd, left, and Rebekah Farthing have enjoyed success in three sports.

Few student-athletes at Watauga High School have the similarities that Brooke Byrd and Rebekah Farthing share.

The two seniors have been teammates at Watauga in volleyball, girls’ basketball and girls’ track and field. Both were starters as freshmen in each sport and both athletes have been leaders both in statistics and with their teammates.

Watauga track and field coach Randy McDonough came up with a nickname for the pair. He calls them “the twins.”

Watauga’s volleyball team has won three straight Northwestern Conference championships and has not lost an NWC match since 2015.

“I think our team is a lot about we want to have good team chemistry and we want to build relationships with each other,” Farthing said. “It’s not just about volleyball. It’s about the relationships we have. We have a lot of passion and we love each other, so we’re stronger together because of the relationships we’ve built.”

Byrd added that the success of the volleyball team is not a fluke.

“We put in the work,” Byrd said. “A lot of people don’t see those hours, so they know that Watauga has a very good volleyball team, but they don’t see the practice. They don’t see the weekend practices.”

Volleyball is not the only sport in which Byrd and Farthing, sometimes known by their friends as “Rebrooke” or “Brookekah,” have excelled. Watauga’s basketball team won the Northwestern Conference championship in 2017-18 with a 13-1 NWC record, 22-5 overall mark.

During that season, Watauga swept Hickory, swept McDowell and beat defending state champion Freedom during the regular season. As with the volleyball team, Watauga has not had a losing season in Byrd’s or Farthing’s first three years with the basketball team.

Farthing started playing volleyball with her older sisters Meredith, Sydney and younger sister Caroline, now a teammate of Rebekah’s with the Pioneers. The older sisters did not cut Rebekah much slack in the volleyball teams they played.

“We had the brick wall on the side of our house and we’d hit the ball and if someone wasn’t doing good they got kicked out and you had to wait until you could get yourself together and then you could go back in again,” Farthing said. “We were very brutal, but that’s how it is.”

Farthing also went to the practice of Club Synergy, a group of travel teams run by Watauga coach Kris Hagaman, with her older sisters. Byrd did the same by going to Synergy practices with her sister.

“I only had one sister as opposed to three, but she’s five years older than I am,” Byrd said. “She played in middle school and she also played with Synergy, so I would always go to practices with my mom, so I was there anyways. I was always hitting the ball against the wall during their practices and Kris begged my mom to just let me play because I wanted to play so bad. One day my mom said let’s do it. Because I did travel soccer and travel basketball at the same time, adding another sport was going to be a lot, but I loved it.”

The two have been friends before Byrd competed for Hardin Park and Farthing competed for Parkway in volleyball and girls’ basketball. They competed for the Watauga middle school girls’ basketball tournament championship in 2016.

Even when they competed against each other, the two remained friends.

“There was never any tension,” Byrd said. “We’ve been best friends before volleyball.”

“Brooke and Rebekah are both extremely dynamic, athletic, coachable, and smart players,” Hagaman said. “They have become great leaders and mentors for the younger players in our program. Because they have played together for so long they work really well together and it is almost as if they can read each other’s minds on the court.”

Byrd got started in track and field with the local Tailwinds track team. She ran track in middle school when Hardin Park teacher and middle school track coach Michael Neff got her out for the team.

Byrd was a part of the Watauga High 1,600-meter relay team that made it to the state 3-A championships in Greensboro in May. She also did the high jump, the long jump and the 400-meter dash.

Farthing does the triple jump and the high jump for the Pioneers.

“I never did track,” Farthing said. “I was going to when I was in middle school but I played basketball. I started as a freshman and ran in events like high jump and it was something to keep me busy.”

Farthing will stay busy in college when she plays volleyball at Georgia Southern. She originally made a verbal commitment to Appalachian State.

But the coach that recruited Farthing to App State, Chad Willis, took the head coaching position at Georgia Southern. Farthing soon followed. Farthing said she hasn’t received any pushback about her decision.

“People have been supportive of my decision,” Farthing said. “They helped make that decision and I didn’t feel like people were talking me to go one way or the other. You need to do what’s best for you and people supported that.”

Byrd is unsure about her future plans, except she would like to get into the health field.

“Maybe in the nursing area,” Byrd said.

Both athletes enjoy trips to the beach, but Byrd likes it early in the morning and Farthing prefers it in the early evening hours. If Byrd isn’t on the beach, she enjoys painting.

“I love art,” Byrd said. “It’s one of my favorite things. On canvas and anything — a person, an animal, scenery, a quote, whatever you want.”

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