Brooke Smith, seen here in action during last year’s state tournament, suffered a knee injury at the end of volleyball season that is keeping her off the basketball court. (Leader photo/File)
Brooke Smith, seen here in action during last year’s state tournament, suffered a knee injury at the end of volleyball season that is keeping her off the basketball court. (Leader photo/File)

Archived Story

Smith learning to be a leader

Published 8:12am Monday, February 3, 2014

For Brandywine’s Brooke Smith, her junior season of athletics has been a season she would like to start over if she could.

Smith had surgery on her right knee during volleyball season to remove three cysts and in just her second match back she tore her ACL in her left knee during warm-ups, ending not only her volleyball season but also her basketball season.

Smith has been a big part of the Bobcats’ basketball team since before her freshman year. She played significant minutes as a freshman on a team that went 24-2, falling to Concord in the state quarterfinals.

Smith was not only a starter her sophomore year on a team that went 24-1, losing only to eventual state champion Manchester in the state quarterfinals, but she was also the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

“It’s a terrible injury for a girl that’s worked so hard,” Brandywine coach Josh Hood said. “When you lose your leading scorer and rebounder from a 24-1 team it hurts.”

Hood was looking to his upperclassmen this season to be the leaders on a team that plays a lot of sophomores and a freshman. He was counting on returning starting point guard senior Tammy Lee, along with his two three-year players — Smith and Tia Hullinger (who also missed several games with a knee injury) — to carry Brandywine to its fifth straight conference championship, sixth straight district championship and quite possibly a fifth consecutive regional championship.

“She’s still at practice everyday and she’s a coach,” Hood said. “I’ve told her that we may have lost a heck of a player, but we’ve gained a great coach.”

While it’s frustrating for Smith to have to sit and watch her team play, she’s keeping a positive attitude and she’s working hard to get back on the court next season.

“This injury has made me realize a lot. It’s helping me to overcome adversity every step,” Smith said. “It’s definitely going to make me drive a lot harder to come back next year and be better.”

The Bobcats (12-1) are once again off to a great start and are looking to continue the dominance they’ve had over the last five seasons. The fact they are doing so without their leading scorer and rebounder from last season says a lot about the program in general, as well as the team.

“We’ve had great basketball players in the past with Carlie (Newman), Mackenzie (Shelton) and Madison (Pellow) to name a few,” Hood said. “But for our style of play this is probably our fastest and most athletic team, and we are excited about that.”

Although it’s not been the junior year she imagined, Smith is definitely making the most of it. She’s learning to lead. She’s motivating her teammates. She’s there for them when they need her and she knows exactly what they are going through on and off the court.

“Play every game like it’s your last,” Smith said when asked if there was one thing she could tell her teammates this year. “Injuries are a freak thing and they can happen to anyone at any time.”

She is speaking from experience, but because of her hard work and determination, she will be back on the court. And Brooke Smith will be a better leader because of her junior season.

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