By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– South Salem’s Brooksie Isham will be lining up in a new spot this season for the Saxons, making the move from Middle Blocker to Outside Hitter going into his senior season.
Over this past Club Volleyball season with NPJ, Isham made the move to Outside Hitter due to injury within her squad and it’s paid dividends with it preparing her for what was to come entering her senior season this year being an Outside Hitter this upcoming season with Araeya Watanabe graduating and moving onto college volleyball at Linfield University.
“That last little shift in club really helped get me ready for what I need to do in High School this year. I have some Outside background, but it was a little hard for me to shift in the beginning because just the timing, the playing all the way around to playing only half the time. It was a little hard to transition, but once I got into the hang of things that kind of got it going and led to me being recruited and all that stuff,” Isham said.
Isham is verbally committed to play Division-1 Volleyball at the US Air Force Academy going into her final year with the Saxons. The last two years have been something incredible entering their second day of camp Monday afternoon. Undefeated during the Covid Short-season in 2021, reaching the Elite 8 a few months later in the latter half of 2021 where they took Central Catholic to five sets and were on the verge of making it to the Final Four, double elimination bracket last season.
Something that was cool points Isham, especially playing with athletes like Laila Leaks, Kayleigh Carpenter, Watanabe and Mackenzie Scott that made her a much better athlete on the court come season end. Isham was a second-team All Mountain Valley Conference selection in 2021.
“It’s really cool to see because I remember coming to the Kids Camps when I was a kid and I want to do that one day and now that we’re actually here and succeeding , it’s really cool to see. Especially last year when we almost made it to the State Tournament,” Isham said. “Playing with Kayleigh, playing with Laila, playing with Mackenzie and Araeya and all those kids, it really has really elevated how I play and how I see things. It’s just helped a lot and it was really fun to play with them.”
With camp this week, the first official practice starting next Monday and their first game-action of the season on August 25 with their jamboree, Isham points to how crucial it’ll be for them to bring up the younger kids to come in and fill the void left by graduated seniors like Leaks and Watanabe going into the jamboree and their first game of the year at North Medford on August 27. Learning roles and getting up to speed as they prepare to see if they can once again duplicate last season’s success again in 2022, all while giving Isham an opportunity to lead alongside returners like Scott and Carpenter.
“I think I can do it. I’ve always been told that I’m a natural born leader,” laughs Isham. “I mean it shouldn’t be hard, but I guess it’s more learning how to lead more by example through hard work and ‘Work Hard. Low Profile’-type of thing. Just work hard, show by example, play hard and hope others will follow. So that’s my plan going into this year.
“(Head Coach) Matt (Leichty) was actually talking about (last year) this morning. He told us right before camp, he goes ‘Especially for returners. You know what that feels like to be at that level and for you younger kids coming, you got to jump on board right away’. So we just got to get everybody on-board because that sets us a goal of where we were and so hopefully we can get back to where we were for that goal and maybe go even higher. So it’s a nice setting point of where we want to go”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald