When it came time for Andrea Howard to choose a college, Georgetown wasn’t on her list.
Four years later, the Franklin County High School graduate is wrapping up a successful scholastic and athletic career at the school.
Howard, a four-year member of the Georgetown women’s basketball team, was recently named an NAIA Division I first team All-American.
“I was a little shocked,” Howard said. “My dad and I were talking, and I checked the site five times, to make sure it was the right name.”
It was. Howard, who received honorable mention on the All-American team as a sophomore, averaged 15 points and 4.5 rebounds this season for the 21-9 Tigers, who advanced to the NAIA national tournament for the third year in a row.
Howard was third on the team in steals and assists. The All-American teams are selected by the NAIA Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-America Committee.
She was on the Mid-South Conference academic team, for sophomores or older with a grade-point average of at least 3.25, and was named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar Athlete, which honors students who are at least a junior with a 3.50 or higher GPA.
“Andrea Howard has been a true student-athlete,” Georgetown women’s basketball coach Andrea McCloskey said. “All the accomplishments she has earned over the last four years on and off the court have truly been amazing.
“I am so proud of her.”
So is her high school coach, Joey Thacker.
“It’s a great honor,” Thacker said about Howard being named first team All-American. “She worked hard right through high school and over at Georgetown. She’s an old-school kid. She just gets in the gym and gives an authentic effort every day.
“People don’t realize you see as good of competition at NAIA Division I as you do in some NCAA Div. II and Div. III conferences, especially in the Mid-South.”
Howard has plenty of family that attended Georgetown, including her parents, Tina and Greg Howard, her maternal grandparents and an aunt.
“To be honest I didn’t even really look at Georgetown,” Howard said. “They didn’t start recruiting me until late in my senior year. My family went to Georgetown and I was going to be the one to break away, go somewhere different.”
But where that place would be was hard to figure out.
“I’d get calls here and there, but I wasn’t heavily recruited,” she said. “After we were out of the regional tournament coach Thacker got calls offering me a chance to be a DI walk-on. I wanted to get a scholarship. That’s what I’d been working for. I put so much time in, and I wanted to get something out of it.”
Howard found what she was looking for with a visit to Georgetown.
“When I got on campus I felt like it was the perfect fit for me, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision,” she said. “Not just basketball but academics, campus life. I’m so happy with my decision.”
Howard said her family didn’t put any pressure on her to go to Georgetown.
“They were very open,” she said. “They didn’t want me to feel like I had to go there, but my grandparents were tickled pink. I’m not even 20 miles down the road.”
Howard has battled injuries throughout her career. She suffered from a stress fracture and didn’t play much as a freshman, and she played with a broken hand her sophomore year.
She missed the first seven games of the season last year with a broken wrist.
Howard’s playing career ended in the NAIA tournament last month, when the Tigers lost in the first round to Loyola.
“It’s just really weird,” she said. “Basketball’s been such a big part of my life the last eight years, and usually at the end of the year you think it’ll start back up in September. I don’t know if it’s hit me yet that I won’t start up in September.
“I didn’t really have much opportunity to play my freshman year, and my hunger to play really sped the last three years up. It feels like I blinked and it’s over.”
Howard is on schedule to graduate in May. She’s majoring in mathematics with a minor in business administration.
“I’m in the process of figuring out exactly what I want to do,” she said. “I think the problem is I have too many options. Do I want to go to graduate school? Do I want to go into the business world? That’s what I’m trying to figure out right now.
“I did medical research this past summer at U of L, and that opened some doors for me. I’ve even thought about coaching. I can’t imagine my life without basketball.”
Howard is well known by the current FCHS girls basketball team, and her sister, Kara, is a senior pitcher for the Lady Flyer softball team.
“A lot of our kids still look up to her,” Thacker said. “She comes to the gym quite a bit during the summer, and she gives kids someone to look up to who want to play at the next level.”
Howard sets an example and offers advice.
“I try to keep a positive attitude,” she said. “I’ve been where the girls are now. I’m not the most athletic person in the world, but I think any success I’ve had is because I worked hard, stayed dedicated to it and played with heart.
“That’s what I want to tell the girls — if they really want to play basketball in college, if they work hard and put their faith in that, it can happen.”