Craig For Katherine Dodd, 2009 Moffat County High School graduate, college life has represented a monumental change from her high school life.
Attending Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., Dodd is more than 2,000 miles from her hometown.
Swimming at a new school, Dodd has changed events, from the freestyle to the backstroke, as well as colors from Bulldog blue to Yellow Jacket yellow.
But the people she has met along the way have made the transition easier, she said.
“It’s been kind of hard,” she said. “It’s been different, but I’ve learned that southern hospitality definitely exists.”
Randolph-Macon is a school with more than 1,700 students, which is exactly the size Dodd said she was looking for.
“I definitely wanted to go to a smaller school,” she said. “I have a better relationship with my professors. My biggest class had 20 kids in it.”
But, with the smaller classes and larger workload, Dodd said her professors want increased effort.
“They definitely expect a lot more from me,” she said. “I have a lot of work.”
The swimming workload has increased, as well.
“We spend a lot more hours in the pool,” she said. “It’s much more of a commitment in college than it was in high school. There’s more pressure.”
The comparison of Craig and Ashland extends much further than two time zones.
“When I talk about my hometown, people don’t know what I’m talking about when I say there isn’t a shopping mall within three hours,” Dodd said. “(In Ashland) there’s one in five minutes in a couple of different directions.”
Dodd said she isn’t sure if she will return to Colorado or remain in Virginia after she is finished with college.
“I really liked the fall, with all the trees and foliage,” she said. “I’ve met some amazing people, and there are very few people from the West, so it’s a really different culture.”
Even in a new culture, Dodd and the Yellow Jackets aren’t without a worthy opponent.
Washington and Lee College represents Randolph-Macon’s biggest rivals.
When the two schools met up for a swim meet, Dodd said it was unlike anything she had experienced before.
“They are a big rival, and it was definitely one of the scariest meets I’ve been to,” she said. “All the girls were so intense and pumped for it. It was definitely different.”
Dodd and the rest of the Yellow Jackets will have their last swim meet Feb. 13.
Dodd said she will continue to work on the 100- and 200-meter backstroke before then.
“I feel like I’ve been doing a lot better,” she said. “I still think I can get better, and I’m going to keep working until I get there.”
Her first meet was at Radford University, where Dodd entered the water tentatively because she had never swam the backstroke competitively.
“I was really nervous, and I thought I was going to be sick,” she said. “But afterwards I felt really good, better than I did in high school.”
Even though it was her first time swimming the 200-meter backstroke, Dodd said she was happy with her first collegiate race.
“I think I did halfway decent, too,” she said. “It was exciting. It was a completely different atmosphere. I think that’s when it hit me — that I was in a completely different place.”
When it comes time for Dodd to leave Randolph-Macon in three years, she would like to be in a different place, as far as her swimming career is concerned, she said.
“I’m definitely not the fastest on the team, and I’m not the slowest, either,” she said. “When I finish my senior year, I want to know that I swam my best and always tried as hard as I could.”