Haley George will close her prep career this spring having participated in cross country, basketball and track as a senior at Hays High, but her next athletic venture will be a much different experience.

George will take to the water next fall as a member of the Kansas State rowing team. She finalized the commitment at a signing ceremony in the Hays High cafeteria Tuesday.

The chance to do something different appealed to the senior who also dances competitively.

“I love all my sports,” George said. “It’s just that I think I was ready for a change. Ready for a new challenge, because I’m always up for a new challenge.”

Rowing will be quite the challenge. George has never raced on the water or even used a rowing machine. The latter is an instruction from Kansas State rowing coach Patrick Sweeney.

“We’re not really allowed to (use rowing machines) because you’ll teach yourself bad habits,” George said. “You wait until you get there. All this summer, I’ll just be doing lots of weights and running and conditioning.”

George will enter on equal footing with most of the fellow freshmen on the team, as very few enter with any rowing experience. Freshmen typically redshirt as they learn the nuances of the sport, according to George.

“Everyone that goes in doesn’t know what they’re doing, so you redshirt your freshman year,” George said. “Then, you just row all year long until your next year. Then, you finally get to compete.”

In addition to learning about the ins and outs of rowing, George will also have some work to do in the weight room.

“I don’t gain weight as well as other people do, and I have to gain at least 20 pounds,” George said.

To do that, George, whose frame currently resembles that of a collegiate runner, said she’ll be taking in a lot of protein and spending a lot of time in the weight room.

While her collegiate sport is much different than any of her previous athletic endeavors, George still will rely on her athletic background. She said cross country helped her prepare for the psychological aspect of rowing, while basketball and track provide explosiveness and endurance required to row.

Outside of the athletic aspect, the Hays High senior felt comfortable at Kansas State, where she plans to study elementary education with a minor in special education.

“When I went there, I just fell in love with how it all worked out,” George said. “They’re very organized. I just love K-State all around. Manhattan, it feels like another home.”

Before she takes on the ‘Little Apple’, George hopes to finish her prep athletic career by qualifying for the state track meet in Wichita in the high jump and as a member of the Indians’ 3,200-meter relay team.

The next step figures to be a demanding five years both academically and athletically, but George said she enjoys pushing herself.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough challenge, but I’m ready for it,” George said.