Brooke Stanton is getting stronger.
You might not see it on the basketball court, because the Eisenhower High School senior is out with an injury. But it's given her more time to show off who she is.
"In a way, yes, it has made me stronger," she said. "It's made me realize what's important in life and, in this instance, I realized that my health is more important than pushing myself to play. I've been dealing with it several different ways. One way that has helped me the most is still being a part of the team. Even though I can't play, I still want to be there for my girls. I just keep telling myself that this injury could be much worse and I need to accept it for what it is.
Photo courtesy of Pat Stanford/Barb Flood
Eisenhower senior Brooke Stanton
"... I push myself and do what is expected," added Brooke. "I tend to have a very tough personality and strive for anything that is obtainable and sometime not obtainable, but it's worth striving for if it makes me better or I learn from it.
"I would have to say from a year ago, yes I am (stronger). I've been through a lot this year that many teenagers don't normally go through. My friends and family are definitely responsible for helping me get stronger and not breaking. My friends and family mean everything to me."
A little "Q & A" with Brooke Stanton:
Q: Who are your parents, siblings, and what sports do you play?
A: My parents are Mark and Dana, and I have one sister and her name is Meghan. I play soccer, basketball, and softball.
Q: In addition to organized sports, I understand you are very active outdoors? Tell me about your active hobbies, and what that says about your personality?
A: Well, if I'm not in the gym or on the field, I'm usually with my family or friends. With my family, we are either hunting or camping, we like to stay busy. As for my friends, we are always out to have a good time, whether it's having a fire, midnight bowling, or just a simple Sheetz run.
I think my hobbies outside of school define my personality as outgoing, adventurous, and friendly.
Q: Speaking of your personality, tell me what personality traits you are most proud of, where they could lead you in life, and which ones you would love to change.
A: I would say my personality trait that I'm most proud of is being able to speak my mind. I don't get nervous what others may think I try to do what I think is best. If I could change one personality trait, it would be to not over analyze the little things and just let them play out.
Q: How have you dealt with your injury from soccer, having had to miss the basketball season so far? I know it's not what you have envisioned for your senior year, but is this helping you to grow as a person?
A: Well, it's been hard dealing with an injury that the doctors don't have an answer for other than "give it time to heal." You know just as well as I do that during your senior year time goes by way too fast, and I feel as though I'm missing out. But, I won't give up on my team; this summer, I was named team captain and I've made it a priority to go to every practice and every game just like I would if I could play. No matter what happens, whether I can step on the court or not this year, I will always be there for my teammates. They haven't given up on me so why should I?
Q: Tell me about how you suffered your injury, if you haven't already, and what steps you have had to go through physically and mentally to rehab?
A: I got hurt on October 17 in a soccer game against Iroquois. I was playing sweeper, which is last girl in front of the goalie. The other team had a corner kick and, as I went to clear the ball, I had a girl hit me from the side and from directly behind; instantly I had a pain that went shooting down my leg and my hand got tingly like it was falling asleep. One of my teammates immediately substituted in for me and I sat the rest of the game.
I started going to a chiropractor because I figured something was just out of place and it would go right back in. I never once thought I would be missing the rest of soccer and now basketball.
The chiropractor couldn't get it to adjust, but he knew something was wrong. So, I went to get a second opinion in Pittsburgh. I had an x-ray and a MRI. The first time my doctor looked at my MRI, he just noticed slight protruding in my lower discs in my back. But after four weeks of rest it hadn't gotten any better, so I went back for my check up and he looked at my MRI again to find the my lower disc was actually popped out. He told me "six more weeks with no activity just physical therapy," which leads us right into February. Which means, if it does heal, I will only have two weeks to play, and, if it doesn't heal, it could possibly mean missing softball.
Q: What is your favorite sport, and why? What positions do you play in each, and what do you like about each of those positions?
A: That's a tough one. I always thought it was softball, but after this injury, I'm realizing it's both basketball and softball. In basketball, I'm a forward. I love being a forward at 5'5". I get to challenge myself against girls that are 3-to-5 inches taller than I am.
In softball, I am a catcher. I'm afraid of ground balls so there is no other place to really put me. I love catcher; as far as I'm concerned it's the best position on the field because I see everything from a different angle than any other position.
Q: What are your favorite memories from all the sports you have played?
A: I think my favorite memory would have to be just being part of the team. No matter what, my teammates always have my back, whether it was on the field/court or in the hallways, they are always there.
Of course, I have all of those silly memories like bus rides and practices but there is one thing I wouldn't trade for the world and that's my teammates. You can't play the three sports I play without them - they are just as important as the ball is.
Q: Who or what is your biggest inspiration, and why?
A: My biggest inspiration is my sister Meghan. No matter what the situation is, she is always there for me. She's had my back since I was a little squirt. Even when I learned to talk, she would just talk for me so I didn't have to. We are four years apart and, yes, we have our arguments. Throughout our elementary and high school years, we weren't very close, but we always turned to each other when we needed advice. Her senior year I was in 8th grade; that's when we became incredibly close and then she left for school.
Four years later, we are both seniors and we still have our long phone calls after a long day just to vent. Nothing is better than being best friends with your sister. She is my inspiration because if you tell her she can't do it, she will do everything in her power to prove you wrong. She works hard for what she wants and settles for nothing less. Her motivation and work ethic is what I look up to her most for. Those two things lead you to have a successful life. I hope that I can follow her footsteps and become just as successful as her one day.
Q: What do you want to do for the rest of your life? Are you ready to move on to college and to a different chapter in your life? What will you remember most about your elementary, junior high and high school days?
A: Oh the questions about the future. I'm ready for college I'm just not ready for the goodbyes that come with it. I plan on going to Clarion University and majoring in Speech Pathology/Audiology. I'm ready for something new and something I'm actually interested in. A few things I will remember the most about the elementary and high school days are the support I had behind me and my amazing friends that were always there for me.
Q: I understand you lost a friend to a tragic accident in the past year. Tell me about her and how she has impacted your life? Share, also, what you are doing to help cope with her death, and also honor her memory?
A: Paula was an amazing person. She didn't let anything get in her way and she never gave up, if she wanted it she was going to get it. She never judged you on your past or your present. You never got bored hanging out with her; she always had something up her sleeve to keep the day entertaining.
After her passing, she made me view life differently. She made me realize that things do happen for a reason; we may not know why but we will one day eventually find out.
She also made me realize, "Life is a journey not a destination," and to live life how you want to because you never know when God will come to bring you home.
In honor of her, I am collecting soda cans year-round and donating them to organizations she was involved in. If you knew Paula you knew to keep your soda cans because when summer hit she was going to be coming to get them. Therefore, in honor of her, I'm going to keep recycling.
This summer I collected $160 and I donated it to the "Paula Southwell Memorial Scholarship." So far I have already collected $56 and have received a few phone calls from friends and family that they have more cans for me. It's amazing how much money you can collect from just soda cans.
Q: Tell me one question I should have asked but didn't, and then answer it.
A: What's the weirdest thing about you?
I like to break candy bars while standing in line at grocery stores or gas stations.