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By Greg Johnson
Linda Godby is the life of the party. Well, at least part of the time.
Godby, an assistant coordinator on the championships staff at the NCAA national office, describes herself as an intermittent extravert. Even so, office members get to see her fun side, particularly around Halloween when she’s dressed up as Cher, Beyonce, Alice Cooper or any number of “Saturday Night Live” characters.
She also entered a contest to win a date with actor Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and was one of the people chosen to have her date filmed and shown on an Internet broadcast.
“When I was younger, I was shy,” Godby said. “I still have moments where I revert back to that. But people grow up, and they break out of that.”
Godby, an avid cyclist, attributes much of that growth from her student-athlete days where she was a member of the Auburn women’s basketball team (1986-90). Back then she was a 6-foot-6 center. She’s still 6-6 – and occasionally the center of attention.
“Going away to school helped me,” said Godby, who grew up in Indianapolis. “I couldn’t run home every time I had a problem. That helped me talk to people I didn’t know.”
Another experience that spurred growth was her overseas professional basketball career that took her to France, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria.
“If I heard anyone speaking English, I would run over to them,” said Godby, who has a marketing degree from Auburn. Today, her job is filled with communication.
She helps staff the Division III Championships Committee and assists with administration of the men’s basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, and baseball championships. She helps ensure that the student-athlete experience at those events is memorable.
Most years she can go to one of the championships, which is always a rewarding experience.
“When you work so hard to get everything done, it’s great to see in person,” said Godby, who has worked at the national office for 10 years. “You get to see the kids compete and see the looks on their faces. We know who we’re working for.”
Having a great championships experience is something with which Godby is familiar.
She played on three Auburn teams (’88, ’89 and ’90) that advanced to the championship game of the Women’s Final Four.
The Tigers lost each time, which makes it bittersweet.
“The one we probably should have won was against Louisiana Tech in 1988,” said Godby, who also played two years for the Seattle Reign in the defunct American Basketball League. “We were up 12 at halftime.”
Auburn couldn’t hold off the Lady Techsters and dropped a 56-54 decision. The other championship-game defeats were 76-60 to Tennessee and 88-81 to Stanford.
Godby, who also played on a state runnerup team at Indianapolis’ Warren Central High School, has attended several Men’s Final Fours in the past 10 years, and she gets a little teary for the team on the losing end.
“Maybe subconsciously that’s why I don’t go to the Women’s Final Four, because I don’t want to deal with it,” said Godby, who still keeps in touch with former teammate Lisa Sampson, the daughter of her Auburn coach, Joe Ciampi.
Having come full circle from student-athlete to working in the national office, Godby sees intercollegiate athletics from a wellrounded perspective.
“Working in championships at the NCAA and learning what all goes into it makes you realize how special my days at Auburn were,” Godby said. “This is a good environment. You work hard, but you find time to take a few minutes to enjoy things.”