Ever since Andover Girls Volleyball Co-Captain Brooklyn Wirt ’21 first stepped on the court in the seventh grade, volleyball has been an outlet for relieving stress and finding positivity for her.
According to Wirt, her family’s focus on athletics led her to start playing volleyball. Wirt believes that since being introduced to the sport, she has dedicated her free time to improving her skills.
Wirt said, “My parents were very big on playing sports. My brother played sports. [They said] once I got to seventh grade, I could either run cross-country or play volleyball, so I chose to play volleyball.”
Even when the team does not have formal practices or competition, Wirt will dedicate time to improving her skills in the off-season.
“I started playing club [volleyball] and going downtown to go play at the open gyms or [at] the Andover Boys and Girls Club,” Wirt said.
According to teammate Warren Clark ’21, Wirt’s passion for volleyball allows her to push the team to improve.
In an email to The Phillipian, Clark wrote, “Brooklyn [is] such [a] great captain! [She] truly brings energy to practice, which is contagious to the rest of the players. Recently with the Covid-19 rule of two people to a ball, I’ve been playing one-on-one with Brooklyn and it’s been so much fun.”
Wirt admires the captains she has played under in previous seasons and strives to emulate their excellence in the sport. According to Wirt, their skills have pushed her to improve her own playing, and she hopes to have a similar impact on this year’s team.
“The kinds of leaders that I have always respected aren’t the ones that are running around and yelling and hyping everyone up, but the ones that go out on the court and do what needs to be done. This has always motivated me to do what needs to be done. That is the kind of leader that I would hope to be, the kind of person that always goes out there and gets it done and shows other people what kind of attitude they need to bring,” Wirt said.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in Andover Girls Volleyball not being able to play matches or practice as a whole team, Wirt has focused on developing the team dynamic from afar.
“The biggest thing I can do is just to make sure that all of the girls coming up in the program just have a love of volleyball, even if it is not through games because we don’t have games… it’s just stress-relieving for me, and it’s so fun to just be able to relax and unwind. It is my job to make sure that all of the girls [on the team] feel the same way,” said Wirt.
According to Wirt, the team is taking advantage of these unforeseen circumstances by embracing the changes Covid-19 has forced them to make this term.
Wirt said, “I think we are all trying to stay positive. I think the volleyball team, in general, has a really positive vibe, and we are just trying to maintain that through this weird time.”
Wirt believes that one way the team has exemplified this optimism is by embracing the advantages of playing volleyball outdoors.
“Something fun that I have never gotten to [do] before, since we are [now] outside, [is] raking the court and getting all of the acorns off of the court because there is a big oak tree that is right next to the court. It is a fun hide-and-seek sort of search, and if you get there early you have to walk around and make sure there are no acorns on the court. Also, just playing beach [volleyball] is a lot different than indoor, but it makes us have to focus on our techniques a lot more,” Wirt said.
According to Michelle Brunetti ’23, Wirt helps foster a team dynamic that is conducive for succeeding during matches and improving during practices.
Brunetti said, “The main thing about Brooklyn is that she is a great leader on and off the court. She always has a lot of determination, and always creates a really positive environment for the team.”
“It is easy to get down and start focusing less, but when the captains are always positive in practice and matches, it helps the team, and it helps us stay more like a family and give it our all to succeed,” Brunetti added.
On an individual level, Wirt integrates some of the lessons she learned in her earlier athletic experiences into her volleyball career at Andover. According to Wirt, the ability to trust herself is an important skill she possesses.
Wirt said, “Something that I have worked on throughout my volleyball career but also my sports career, in general, is that, when it gets down to the wire, I will be able to trust myself to be able to make the play.”
Wirt feels like she can also take a lot of the lessons she learned from volleyball and use them after she graduates from Andover.
Wirt said, “[I] don’t want to give [volleyball] up, it has taught me so much about myself…Volleyball, in general, is a sport that is very positive, and I think it is a sport where you can’t get down on yourself for one mistake because every set is just 25 mistakes. I like having the pressure of all the games being important and feeling like every time I touch the ball I have to make the right play and do something positive.”
Editor’s Note: Brooklyn Wirt ’21 is a Digital Editor for The Phillipian.