Senior Alex Rodman races to a first-place finish in a cross country meet earlier this year. PHOTO BY AARON JENNINGS/Shooters at the Beach/Special

Read this story to find out where track star Alex Rodman is going to college!

Alex Rodman receives the Most Outstanding Female Athlete and Best All-Around Athlete award from Athletic Director Ray Scott at the end of her junior year. PHOTO BY MICHAELA KELLY/Nighthawk News Magazine
Teammate Hailey Schreyer enjoys a post-race moment with Alex Rodman during Rodman’s sophomore year. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Athletic Director Ray Scott, swimmer Laura Maniet, Alex Rodman and former Principal Arty Tillett pose for a photo after the Most Outstanding Athlete award presentation after Rodman’s sophomore year. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Alex Rodman and her teammates wave to classmates on their way to last year’s state championship meet. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Alex Rodman races toward the finish line at the Bo Run Invitational in Greenville earlier this year. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Alex Rodman displays her Runner of the Year plaque after the Northeastern Coastal Conference Championships her freshman year. PHOTO BY SARAH SHOTTON/Nighthawk News Magazine
Alex Rodman checks out times written on her arm during a middle school meet. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Alex Rodman enjoys a cup of coffee during a visit to Columbia University in New York City. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Arabella Saunders, Editor-in-Chief

Propped against a charging station in the Newark, New Jersey, airport terminal, Alex Rodman sketched a Venn diagram comparing her two prospective schools.

One graphite cage enclosed the word “Yale,” juxtaposed against its rival, “Columbia.” Awaiting an update on her delayed flight home from an official visit to Columbia University, the all-too-familiar sense of anxiety rose in the senior’s chest as she realized every second passed was another moment closer to making the final monumental decision of her college recruitment process — deciding where to run track for the next four years of her life.

“They’re both really different schools, so it’s hard to compare them. Columbia has this atmosphere that’s different from any other university because it’s in the heart of New York City and everyone there is really individualized and so outgoing,” she said. “And Yale has the most beautiful campus in the whole entire world. There’s courtyards and ivy growing up the building, and everything is just so clean.”

The athlete returned home with her college decision still weighing heavily on her mind. After taking official visits to those two campuses, plus Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, Rodman had narrowed it down to two. She sat down with her parents at the dinner table and struggled to wrap her head around her answer as they encouraged her to choose between the two Ivy League schools.

“They were like, ‘What do you want to do, Alex? You have to decide. It’s your choice,’ ” Rodman recalled. “At that point, I was like, ‘I just don’t know.’ ”

As coaches from both Yale and Columbia began to contact her requesting a final decision, Rodman’s anxiety grew. She reviewed her Venn diagram once more, scanning over the pros and cons of each school. At the peak of her frustration, she received yet another email from a prospective coach.

“The coaches sent me a really nice email that I hadn’t gotten from anywhere else, just telling me that no matter what I chose, they wanted me to be happy,” Rodman said. “At that point I was just like, ‘Columbia is the one.’ ”

Despite the late hour, Rodman resolved to contact Maraya Slatter, Columbia University’s assistant track coach, about her choice.

“I texted the coach late at night and I didn’t think she would answer, and then my phone started ringing and I said, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and she’s like, ‘So, what are you thinking?’ and I said, ‘I think I want to go to Columbia,’ ” Rodman explained. “She said, ‘Alex, you just made my night!’ and that was that.”

Casting off the weight of her lengthy decision process, Rodman was uplifted by the excitement that comes with committing to an NCAA Division I athletic program.

“I just couldn’t stop smiling,” she said. “I was so excited, I wanted to tell everyone. I was going through my phone and trying to see who I could call and I realized I couldn’t tell anyone yet and I was so sad, but I was just really excited to finally have that weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for for a really long time.”

Looking back, Rodman never expected for her success in track to lead her to a D-I university, much less an Ivy League. She will sign her official Letter of Intent with the Lions on Monday, Nov. 13, at 1:30 in the FFHS rotunda.

“This time last year, I was some wannabe track star who didn’t really have great times and was still improving a lot,” Rodman said. “But after the seasons I had my junior year, it really made the difference with my athletics, and I realized I had the potential to do bigger things.”

Despite her own shock, Rodman’s supporters believe she possesses the ability to attend an Ivy League based on her academic achievements alone. To FFHS track and cross country coach Chris Layton, Rodman’s acceptance into Columbia’s running program was just an added bonus.

“I was thrilled for Alex,” Layton said. “Although I think she was a strong candidate for Columbia without running being in the equation, I believe her running abilities closed the deal and helped her achieve the opportunity of an Ivy League education.”

As Rodman prepares to make the leap from Kill Devil Hills to Manhattan, she is eager to discover what life in New York City entails. The runner hopes to make great strides not only in her athleticism, but in her college experience as a whole.

“New York is just a whole new world,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a crazy four years. The college experience in New york City is going to be incredible. I’m really excited.”

As far as academics, Rodman is unsure as to what she wants to pursue.

“I’m definitely undecided right now,” Rodman said. “I’ve thought about business. I’ve thought about communications. But Columbia has such a broad range of majors and concentrations that I’m sure once I get there, I’ll find something that sparks my interest.”

The athlete’s running career has her on track for an Ivy League education, and for now – with a cross country championship race and indoor and outdoor track seasons still looming with the Nighthawks – that’s good enough.

“I don’t think I’m feeling the effects quite yet. Maybe it’s because I haven’t quite told the world,” Rodman admitted. “I’m feeling a lot more confident in myself, though, because I can say that I am going D-I. I feel as if I should hold myself to a higher standard now because I am committed to this really great school.”

Senior Arabella Saunders can be reached at

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This story was written by a former Nighthawk News Magazine staff member who has since graduated from First Flight High School.