For Brooke Marak, volleyball has been a constant in her life ever since she was little. It has led her to some exciting experiences — including a quest to help get the Granbury Lady Pirates back to the playoffs.
"I first started playing volleyball when I was in third grade and honestly, I don't remember what drew me to the sport," Marak said with a smile. "I used to cheer as a little elementary kid and maybe because all of my friends were doing it I decided to give it a chance. I picked up volleyball and never looked back.
"Volleyball was the only constant in my life as my family and I moved from Austin to Granbury during the middle of my sixth-grade school year. It was a way for me to meet new people, make new friends, and to just be on a team."
Marak, a right-side hitter/middle blocker, joined the varsity squad for the first time this season, and the timing couldn't have been better for her. The Lady Pirates look good for a return to the playoffs and Marak's play is one of the reasons.
"Brooke is a smart player. She is really good with placement, and that is definitely an asset to the team," Lady Pirates coach Desiree Shahan said.
After a slow start, Granbury went on a win streak in District 5-5A that included a victory over defending league champion and state-ranked Northwest.
"We really showed up and showed out for that game. Playing that game was one of the most exciting games I think I've ever played in," she said "Our season did start out a little rough; with tough preseason games it makes for a difficult time.
"Ever since district has started we have really got our minds right and we are determined to make it into playoffs and hopefully far in."
Marak made her return from an injury in that match. It was a triumphant return as she posted a dozen kills and three blocks in the come-from-behind victory.
She had a collateral ligament tear in her left ring finger. She was out almost three weeks.
"I was playing defense and I didn't get my hands up fast enough and got my fingers jammed by the ball," she said.
But even being injured didn't stop Marak from helping the team win.
"Even when she was out, she was still able to push our team by challenging her teammates with her aggressive serves in practice to help push our team in serve-receive," Shahan said. "She also had a vital role in the squad talking to her hitters about what was open."
Before joining the varsity, Marak received Offensive and Co-Offensive Player of the Year awards on the junior varsity.
While volleyball is her first love, Marak has played other sports. Last season she threw the discus and lettered on the varsity track team.
"I have thrown since my sophomore year and I plan to throw again this year," she said.
Then, she added with a laugh, "I played softball my freshman year but it's best left forgotten."
CLUB AND COLLEGE
Marak also plays for the Fort Worth Fire volleyball club. Last season they advanced to regional competition.
"I grew a lot in my mental game and my court awareness. That is a huge success to me. I am excited to finish off my club years with 212 volleyball club (in Fort Worth)," she said.
She's not finished playing volleyball after her days as a Lady Pirate are over. She will attend Brevard College in North Carolina where she will major in biology.
"I have always had a passion for science and I love learning the inner workings of things," she said. "While I attend college I will also continue my volleyball career there as well. I love the coaches and I can't wait to be a Tornado!"