In the cutthroat world of competitive sport, opposing players rarely support each other in the heat of battle. But that’s not always been the case, when it comes to former Northshore athletes Melissa Gilkey of Woodinville and Allie Hadley of Bothell.
Despite being from different schools, Hadley and Gilkey always maintained a joyous and competitive closeness. Laughter, practical jokes and intense competition defined their friendship. They were also teammates in a volleyball league that existed independent of high school.
“Allie and I became good friends through volleyball,” Gilkey said. “I loved how competitive she was on the court, and how fun-loving she was off the court. I could count on her to push me to get better every practice or game, but I could also look to her if I ever needed to be reminded of why I play the game. If you were on Allie’s team you knew you would most likely win whatever you were playing, and you would have fun doing it.”
Gilkey, being a year older, was the first to graduate. In the fall of 2011 she left for Washington University of St. Louis, where she’s on scholarship for basketball and track and field. Hadley followed suit a year later, accepting a scholarship for track and field with California Lutheran University. They frequently spoke of competing against each other again at nationals. Lo and behold, both women qualified this spring and headed off to La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“I knew that one day we would be reunited,” Hadley said. “I was thinking in my mind I don’t care what place I finish in, all I want to do is beat Melissa! Because she always beats me in everything. The second I saw her, I ran up and yelled ‘Gilk!’ We gave each other huge hugs. It had been almost a year since we’d seen each other. It was like no time had passed. We picked up right where we left off.”
As the javelin competition started, the first flight of 12 women began while Hadley and Gilkey waited their turns amid the second flight of 12.
“The whole time we were sitting next to each other laughing about things we did back in high school,” Hadley said. “We were both genuinely happy to be competing with each other again. She kind of felt like a teammate even though she wasn’t. We were supporting each other and it felt so comforting to have her there.”
Gilkey had a best throw of 145’ to finish 3rd. Hadley’s best was 138’, which was good for a 7th place finish. This meant both athletes were officially All-Americans.
“After I threw my personal best, Allie ran up to me and gave me a hug and I could tell she was genuinely happy for me,” Gilkey said. “I think that is a very rare thing to have happen at such a competitive meet, and I feel so lucky to have shared that memory with her.”