Despite living so close to ASU, freshman Kat Simonovic from Mountain View High School was originally not considering attending any Arizona schools.
“I was always that girl that said never to stay in state,” Simonovic said.
University of Michigan, a few California schools and various colleges on the east coast caught Simonovic’s eye before making a reluctant recruiting trip to ASU.
The trip was set up by assistant coach Dan Kesler, so Simonovic could see the school closest to her home before making any final decisions, Simonovic said.
Following the meeting with Kesler, Simonovic would commit to ASU.
“I don’t remember what it is he said,” Simonovic said. “But I left my recruiting trip knowing I wanted to go to ASU.”
Before Kesler’s meeting, Simonovic’s recruiting trips across the country had primarily focused on the schools’ swim teams. ASU offered something different. The combination of family atmosphere amongst team members, coaching staff and the environment of ASU made the decision easy, Simonovic said.
Coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker set her sights on Simonovic two years ago and sent Kesler to convince her to commit to ASU.
“Guards were up,” Kesler said in regard to the recruiting meeting with Simonovic. “When you believe in a program 100 percent like I believe in Dorsey’s, it’s easy to convey that belief to others.”
With a dual citizenship with Serbia, Simonovic has already attempted to get a spot on the Serbian National Swim Team for the 2012 Olympics but fell short by a mere four-tenths of a second as a 17-year-old.
Kesler saw this talent in Simonovic and is confident she can make it with ASU.
“If you want to make the Olympic team, swim with Dorsey,” Kelser said to Simonovic during their recruiting meeting.
Simonovic’s status as an honors student at Barrett, the Honors College and ability to thrive there, along with the sports facilities provided by ASU were a big part part of the decision to become a Sun Devil.
Senior Alex Palumbo, a swim partner and fellow Barrett scholar has worked with Simonovic as an academic and athlete and has already seen her grow.
“She’s young, has a lot of talent, is open to learning, and is a hard worker,” Palumbo said. “I’m excited to see what she can accomplish.”
The co-ed swim team and coaching staff work together to create a family feeling that everyone on the team uses to learn while enjoying themselves in the pool, something Siminovic said she enjoys.
“I trust this team so much,” Simonovic said, “You really feel it. Everyone is here for you.”
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