This is the second in a series of question-and-answer sessions with Lexington softball players. Lexington Christian seniors Brooklyn Brinegar and Charis Hill sat down to chat with the Herald-Leader this week.
Q: How long have each of you been playing?
Charis Hill: This is my sixth year with LCA.
Brooklyn Brinegar: This will be my fifth with LCA but I’ve been playing since I was about 8 years old.
Q: What attracts you to the game?
CH: I think that, for me, just the intellect of the game. Obviously with basketball (Note: Charis also played basketball at LCA) there’s a lot of intellect, but just here you have to know what you need to do before you actually do, whereas basketball it’s just split-second.
BB: I love the competitiveness of the game and I think you have to be intellectually in it all the time, and I think that’s such a cool thing. That’s the main reason I fell in love with the sport.
Q: How do you maintain focus within games?
CH: I would definitely say that communication is probably the biggest thing as far as a team collectively. But I know for me personally when Elise (Shewmaker) or Emilie (Teall) or Brooklyn, when they’re taking their windups, I’m always taking two steps towards the ball.
BB: It’s about constantly moving. I also think it has to do with the mental toughness of the game. Coach (Greg) Shew (Shewmaker) goes over it in in practice with us all the time. ‘We need to stay in it all the time. Be focused all the time.’ And I think honestly by this point it’s just second nature to us.
Q: How important is being dual-sport athletes to you all?
CH: I think for me personally the basketball has really helped with hand-eye coordination. Just having to go to a ball quickly or find a ball quickly or something like that, it’s really helped with the speed of the game.
BB: I agree with that for volleyball. I think volleyball and softball, you have to be very quick and you have to have good hand-eye coordination. There are offseasons in softball and I think volleyball just helps me stay in practice.
Q: How do you balance playing two sports while still trying to “be a kid?”
CH: For me, just playing a sport is my fun. That’s my chance to be a kid. That’s how I am a kid.
BB: I agree. Sports in general, it’s a fun thing to do. It’s a lot of fun and I think everybody who plays would agree. I don’t think you see a lot of people in sports who don’t actually want to be there and don’t think of it as their childhood.
Q: Brooklyn, you’re going to play softball at Asbury. What are you going to study there?
BB: I’m planning on going into their exercise science program. I’m thinking I might want to go into physical therapy.
Q: Are you going to play a sport in college, Charis?
CH: I will not continue sports from here on out, sadly. But I plan on going to Kennensaw State in the fall and doing their pre-med program, then maybe transferring to the University of Georgia.
Q: Do you have ties to Georgia?
CH: I do. My father graduated from there so he’s that “brain-washed me,” so to speak (laughing).
Q: What’s it like to play for Coach Shew?
CH: I would say that Coach Shewmaker shows tough love in the truest sense. I think a lot of people from the outside are like, “Man, he gets on y’all so much all the time,” and sometimes it’s kind of like, “Gosh, coach is chewing me out,” but he really does care about us. He just has so much love for the game and for us. I can say, honestly, he’s pushed Brooklyn and I to have a tremendous work ethic, or at least try to have a tremendous work ethic.
BB: What’s awesome about Coach Shew is he knows that you’re so much better than you think you are. And so he’s going to push you. He always says, “I’m not gonna pull ya, I’m gonna push ya,” cause he wants us to want to love the game and he wants us to play. All the younger girls, he may get on them a little more, but that’s because he knows just how good they are and how good they’re gonna be. He’s an amazing coach.
Q: There are a lot of young girls on your team and you’re the only two seniors. What’s that dynamic like?
BB: It’s been cool because since we were younger, the program’s always been very young. But what I think’s really special about this group of girls is they are just so talented and I think Charis would agree with me that they’re gonna do even more great things once we’re gone. They are, honestly, such a talented group. And it’s really cool to be able to grow with them and see them improve every year. It’s really exciting to see what they’re gonna do.
CH: I would definitely say that they play well above their years. If I could go back and have the type of talent that they have now, gosh, I would be working probably non-stop to just perfect that craft. Because a lot of these girls can and will go far in softball or whatever they do, for that matter.
Q: You’ve started off well this season. What’s LCA capable of in 2017?
CH: I think that we have a good chance at finishing really well in the district. I know that one of our goals was to get to regionals. That’s probably the big one. And then just make some noise at Owensboro (in the All ‘A’ Classic).
BB: I’d agree with that. I honestly think we have a good shot when it comes to districts. This group of girls and this team is just super competitive and I would like to say “scrappy” is a good word to define them.
Q: What happens off the field to help you guys bond?
CH: I think this year, as far as team-bonding goes, I’ve kinda picked up the ball on this. I’ll give them a riddle before a game or something and try to make them think through the scenario or whatever it is. Just have fun with it.
BB: Yea, that’s a lot of it. We are a very special group, is a good word to describe (us). Riddles, especially with the younger ones, it gets them going. And, trust me, we spent a whole practice once, or pretty close to it, just trying to figure out riddles the whole time. It helps keep your mind going.
Q: When I say, “Gimme a riddle,” what’s your go-to?
CH: Oh gosh. There are a couple of different ones. Sometimes I’ll do like the “20 Questions”-type riddles where you have to ask yes or no questions, but my favorite one is probably the “My train runs.” (Brooklyn starts laughing). I would say, “Okay, my train runs from east to west,” and then Brooklyn would have to figure out how to get her train to run. So she would say something like, “My train runs from east to west,” but I would say, “Your train doesn’t run,” because she didn’t say “Okay” before she said, “My train runs.”
BB: Trust me, they get very frustrating after a while.
CH: (Laughing). I’m sorry. They probably hate me.
Q: Where did you come up with that one?
CH: I was on a mission trip in Jamaica this past week and we did a couple of those. So I just thought, “Hey that’d be really cool to bring to LCA and just do it with the girls and see what they thought of it.” I think they like it so far, for the most part (laughing).
BB: She comes up with all this stuff. I’m just kind of along for the ride with these sorts of things.
Week one: Katie Hurley (Bryan Station)
Week two: Brooklyn Brinegar and Charis Hill (Lexington Christian)