The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many issues for high school seniors being recruited to play college athletics, including Beaver Dam’s Paige Hodgson, who was being recruited by a plethora of schools to play women’s college basketball as she gets ready for her final year of high school.
Hodgson — who was being recruited by the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Drake, Nebraska-Omaha, Valparaiso, UW-Green Bay and Northern Kentucky — was forced to take mostly virtual campus visits.
She wasn’t able to take an in-person college visit until July 24, when her family took a trip to Highland Heights, Kentucky, home of Northern Kentucky University. And the school seemed to be the perfect fit for her, as she committed to play at the university on Monday night.
“When I stepped on campus, I knew that it was the right fit for me,” Hodgson said of Northern Kentucky. “Everyone talks about your gut feeling and how you know it’s the school. The second I stepped on campus, I just knew that was where I wanted to spend my four years after high school.”
Hodgson added that she “fell in love immediately” and knew it was “just the perfect fit for me” because it’s a small campus where you “feel like you’re in your own little world, and you don’t have to deal with all the big city stuff.”
Hodgson said there are a lot of new things on campus, including a new health innovation center, where she would be spending most of her time, because she plans on majoring as a physician assistant.
Since Hodgson wasn’t able to enter the athletic facilities during her visit, she was shown pictures of what’s inside. Northern Kentucky head coach Camryn Whitaker also had a FaceTime meeting with Hodgson earlier in her recruitment where the facility was shown as well.
“They have a great weight training area,” Hodgson said. “They had really good facilities to help better yourself.”
“They’re going to want the best from you,” Hodgson added. “They’re going to push you, because they will know you can always give more than you think you can. They’re going to push you to get that out of you, which is their job.”
Hodgson is a 6-foot-3 forward who can cause match-up problems for opposing defenses. She averaged 5.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game this last season, earning honorable mention All-Badger North Conference honors. She helped the Golden Beavers to a 23-3 overall record and a fourth-straight trip to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament. The Golden Beavers also won a Badger North Conference title, sweeping the competition at 14-0. The conference championship marked Beaver Dam’s 11th in a row.
Hodgson will be joining a Northern Kentucky squad that is an NCAA Division 1 program that participates in the Horizon League. The Norse finished with a 20-12 overall record and their 12-6 conference record finished fourth behind league champs IUPUI (15-3), Green Bay (13-5) and Wright State (13-5) last season.
“I wouldn’t say it was a huge deciding factor when I was making my decision, but it’s nice,” Hodgson said of the program’s recent success. “It’s nice having that, because than you can just help continue the success. Like they always say, they like to recruit winners.
“They have a winning culture, because they will always want you to strive for the best, so they recruit winners.”
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.
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