DOBSON — Anyone who has ever seen Sadie Brooks on a volleyball court can tell that the 5’10” outside hitter loves the game.
Starting next fall, she’ll be back.
“Volleyball is great,” said Brooks, who signed her national letter of intent to join the Surry Knights on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve played since I was in the fifth grade, and my parents never had to force me to go to a practice.”
Brooks, a two-time All-Northwest Conference player for Mount Airy High School and also a standout for the Surry Storm and Twin-City Volleyball Academy, became SCC head coach Jan Marion-Kiser’s first 2018 recruit when she signed her LOI in a ceremony at the college. Marion-Kiser has worked hard to make her program a destination for area players over the past several years, and was pleased to add Brooks for the next two seasons.
“I’ve watched her play since she was in middle school. I know she is going to add strength on the outside for us,” said Marion-Kiser. “It’s going to be nice to have Sadie on the outside taking swings for us. She’s strong. You can just look at her and tell she is strong. I am really excited to have her.
Those who followed her career to this point, with the Lady Bears or with other teams, will understand why. With Mount Airy, Brooks played in 287 sets during her career, amassing 935 kills, 574 digs, 181 blocks and 151 aces. Already listed on the squad roster as an eighth-grader, she led the team in kills in both her first and last varsity matches and most of the ones in between. In 2016, she had a brilliant campaign with 366 kills, third in the state among 1A players, and led the Lady Bears to a 23-6 record and a No. 9 statewide ranking.
She cites the recognition she received from her peers as a highlight of her career, being selected as honorable mention All-Conference in 2014 and winning the full honor the next two seasons.
Brooks, the daughter of Billy and Stephanie Brooks of Mount Airy, cited a number of people for helping to make her into the formidable player she’s become.
“Scott Kirkpatrick was my first volleyball coach, and he kind of created that passion and love for the game. He made it fun, encouraged us and praised us whether we won or lost,” she recalled. “(Former Wake Forest head coach) Heather Holmes did a lot of our team camps and she is really great. She’s really focused on you as a player, and knows a lot about the game. And Coach (Caleb) Gilley, he has that strong desire to win and it really rubs off on you.”
When Brooks’ high school career ended, she still had a desire to play the game. In the meantime, Coach Marion-Kiser’s team was in the middle of a strong 2017 season, going 20-12 with sophomore Anika Thomas winning Region X Player of the Year honors. For next year, she returns a strong nucleus that includes All-Region X selections middle hitter Lauren Charleville and libero Bryce Smith, both friends and former high school rivals of Brooks’. For player and coach, this couldn’t have worked out better.
“I’ve played against Lauren ever since I was a freshman,” said Brooks. “She was a really good player and I kind of looked up to her, and I think it’s great we’re on the same team now. And Bryce, I’ve always played against her.
“They have so much energy, and all of us coming together is going to be tough for some teams. I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get here and play.”
Marion-Kiser said she will likely move Charleville, a former North Stokes standout, to the outside in 2018, and deploy Brooks on the other side of the formation.
“Sadie and Lauren both bring something different to that position, and I think it’s going to be a good mix, those two on the outside,” said Marion-Kiser.
Anyone who saw Brooks in 2016 would have had no doubt that she was capable of playing at the college level. But she said that Surry will likely be the final stop of her volleyball career before pursuing other goals.
“I want to be a registered nurse and then work toward being a nurse practitioner later on,” she said. “Two years seems good to me for where I’m at right now. I really love Chapel Hill and I want to work really hard, keep my GPA up, and then go to Carolina.”
Both Brooks and Marion-Kiser are looking forward to next season.
“I just have to always feel like I’m doing something out there and not just going through the motions,” said Brooks. “I’m just really grateful that Jan gave me a chance to come and play for her.”
As for the coach, she still has some recruiting to do for next season, but her roster already looks stronger than it did before Thursday.
“I made the comment that I don’t want to wish my life away, but I can’t wait until July so we can get started again. I’m pretty excited and looking forward to next year,” she said.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.