Sports Person of the Week
Lavigne Brings Staunch Defense to the Field
Brooke Lavigne plays an integral role on the Valley Regional field hockey squad as a center attacking defender. A junior, Brooke has excellent field vision and provides a steady voice in the backfield for the Warriors. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Lavigne )
Brooke Lavigne is an excellent defender with skill to spare for the Valley Regional field hockey team. Brooke, a junior, has a long family history in field hockey since her mother Debbie used to coach the sport at Connecticut College. As a result, Brooke brings plenty of knowledge to the Warriors.
Brooke began her field hockey career in the 4th grade by playing against limited competition through field hockey clubs. Eventually, Brooke joined a travel field hockey squad called HTC. Shortly thereafter, Brooke played on the big stage when her team went to nationals in Spooky Neck, Pennsylvania.
“I joined a travel team when I was 7th grade. We went to nationals for indoor field hockey, which was crazy. I was actually the youngest person on the team,” says Brooke. “It was scary, honestly, because I was so young, but I actually scored a goal on a corner. That was a big accomplishment. My teammates didn’t really talk to me, because I was so young, but they started to talk to me once they knew I could score. It was a learning experience.”
Brooke still plays travel field hockey, now with the Tsunami, just like many of her Valley teammates. When Brooke takes the field, she’s one of the first lines of defense for her team.
“I play attacking center defense. When I am facing an attacker, I typically try to move them to the sideline, so the ball is on my stick side,” Brooke says. “Once I get them there, I call another teammate to go behind them and get it or I will block tackle them. If I receive possession, I’ll dribble it myself. Then I look up for my teammates like Abby Amara or Margaret Jacaruso to push it on offense.”
Brooke spent a lot of time working to improve her on-field skills prior to the high school season. Luckily, Brooke has the help of her mother and her younger sister Lilly to keep her sharp.
“Over the summer, we weren’t able to have captains’ practices, so I would practice with my mom and my sister. Lilly had never played field hockey outside at that time. I started teaching her myself, so I had someone to play with. Practicing with my sister has become one of my favorite things,” says Brooke, who lives in Chester. “I started doing runs, too, but I’m not much of a runner. My endurance has gotten a lot better. I ran the mile a minute-and-a-half faster. I have more energy after being trapped in my house for months. I put whatever I could into training, because I didn’t know how long the season would last. I just practiced as hard as I could.”
By practicing with her sister, Brooke has found that she’s a solid instructor. Now, Brooke is taking what she’s learned from that experience and applying it by lending a hand to the younger athletes on the Warriors.
“We had split practices, and I was in the early practices. I was the oldest in that group, and I know it’s scary being a freshman. So, I tried to help them out as much as I could or went to a captain if I didn’t know the answer,” Brooke says. “Now that we have full practices with the team, there are some freshmen on defense, and we all practice together. I try to help them out on defense and tell them what to do and what not to do. I’ve taken on that role of helping them out.”
Brooke is ever-vigilant in the backfield, and Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers values what she brings to her team’s defense. As a former goalie, McCabe Powers knows that having solid defenders can take some pressure off of whoever is playing in the cage.
“Brooke has extraordinary field vision. She sees the whole game and is able to make very calm and very smart decisions consistently. It brings a steadiness to our young backfield. I’m counting on that day in and day out,” McCabe Powers says. “She has all the tricks. She has a nice lifted shot when she gets the opportunity to shoot. She has exceptional foundation skills, and that’s really what a defenseman needs. She’s got a good block tackle. She’s good at taking people to the double team, and she’s vocal on the field.”
When Brooke isn’t on the field, training, or otherwise occupied with her studies, she enjoys snowboarding, ice skating, photography, and music. Brooke plays flute in the school band and, when she’s getting ready for games, she listens to some tunes with her father Andy in the car.
“I don’t like to be quiet before a game. I listen to music with my dad in the car—his ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s rock music. It can be very interesting. It gets me hyped, though,” says Brooke. “I go into a game open-minded and excited to play. Especially this year, I have to be happy before I get to a game. I do better when I’m happy or excited.”
Brooke and her Valley teammates have had a season full of challenges, but there’s always the hope that everything will come together in the postseason. Brooke believes that the Warriors can put together a solid run in the Shoreline Conference Tournament and have a bright future ahead of them in future campaigns.
“This year, it’s been a really rocky season for us as a team. I think we could do well in the tournament this year if we stick to game-plan. We have to want it. We play best when we want to win,” Brooke says. “Next year, we will have great potential for a strong team. We’ll have a lot seniors, and there are a lot of players coming up from middle school, not just my sister. This year’s freshmen will be a big help, too. We can do really well next year if we try really hard.”