Injuries Didn’t Prevent Collegiate Career From Starting Alumna on Her Path
Katherine Orga Godfrey ’04, Volleyball, Leadership, Athletic Training
Growing up the fifth of six active children, Katie Orga Godfrey ’04 always wanted to be a teacher and a coach. Today, Godfrey has built the career she’d planned, and it grew from her experiences, both good and bad, in Washington College athletics.
Godfrey’s career aspirations and desire to play collegiate volleyball and basketball led her to Washington College. A self-described “hard worker more than a talent,” she welcomed the demands of playing two sports, in back-to-back seasons.
“It controlled my schedule in a good way,” she says. “My core group of friends were all athletes. We had a similar mindset.”
But just months into her first year, Godfrey’s plans were sidelined, first by an ACL tear during basketball season, then by a herniated disc the following summer. Despite disappointment, she helped her teams in other ways.
“I traveled with the teams and was like a liaison with the athletic offices,” she says. “Coming back from the adversity of those injuries was a great life lesson.”
While the ACL tear ended her basketball career, it started her path toward becoming an athletic director. Godfrey assisted the athletic trainers, taping ankles, setting up for games, and “learning all the things that go on behind the trainers’ doors,” she says. “I saw how sports work from the other side.” She signed up intramurals officials and helped those teams run smoothly. “I got a real taste for the different parts of an athletic program. With good people, you see how well things can run.”
Godfrey’s athletics exposure broadened further with leadership roles. Returning to active status in volleyball, she was elected team captain for her junior and senior years. She participated in an NCAA symposium on equality and served as a peer mentor.
“Our volleyball coach, K.J. Welcenbach, held a high standard and gave me a lot of responsibility,” she says. “I learned a lot that I carried into my professional career.”
Right after graduation, Godfrey was hired by Salesianum School, the all-boys athletic powerhouse in her native Wilmington, Del. She taught math there for 17 years and was the school’s first female basketball coach. Then, in 2022, she was named athletic director, the first woman in the role. Godfrey says the transition has been seamless.
“When it was announced, the boys were very enthusiastic,” she says. “It was wonderful and so validating to have their support and see their excitement.”
As an educator, Godfrey believes in placing the right person in the position they have earned, regardless of gender. But as the mother of four, three of whom are girls, she loves that through her job, her children see women “being valued for the work they are putting in.”
Ultimately, “we want to give women as many opportunities as possible to prove we can hold these leadership roles in an effective and successful way,” Godfrey says. “At Salesianum, the boys know and trust me. They see me in the athletics area every day. To them, it’s not unusual; it’s normal. And that’s a really good thing.”